Google will begin letting users run encrypted searches on its search site Google.com starting next week.
The announcement was made in a blog post explaining that the search company had been “mistakenly” eavesdropping and recording what people were doing on unencrypted wi-fi networks as its Street View cars were taking pictures of cities around the world and recording the IDs of wifi networks and routers. That data is used to help geo-locate people using devices without GPS, but the company has said for years it was not collecting session data.
Google turned on encryption — better known as https:// — as a default for Gmail users earlier this year. That encrypts the data sent between a user’s browser and Google’s servers, making it nearly impossible for someone in the middle to read the contents of that e-mail. When not using SSL, a user of a school or corporate network can have their e-mail and web traffic content read by authorities who control the network, while anyone using an open Wi-Fi connection can have their traffic sniffed by a hacker using simple tools.