Google adds a (dangerous) Firefox tune-up

Google has announced advanced searching with Firefox:

Now Google’s faster than ever on Firefox and Mozilla browsers. When you do a search on these browsers, we instruct them to download your top search result in advance, so if you click on it, you’ll get to that page even more quickly.

But Ed Bott (via Ed Felton) shows how pre-loading (and caching) content on my machine can be dangerous:

I’m not so sure I like this idea. It’s basically the “I feel lucky” option with an extra click. On a broadband connection, would I even notice the difference? On a dial-up connection, which I had to suffer with last week, it would impose a performance penalty. I’d prefer it if this were an option.

And why only for Firefox? Is there a technical reason why this can’t be done for another browser?

Updated: The more I think about this, the less I like it. What if the top search result contains content that is objectionable? If I do a perfectly legitimate search on my work computer, I have the option to avoid downloading that page based on its summary and title. But if the page downloads for me, it goes through my company’s proxy servers, where it gets logged as something I downloaded. It’s also cached on my computer. If that page happens to include porn or other unwanted content, I could get in serious trouble and even lose my job, even though I am completely innocent.

Google Help explains how to disable this feature in Firefox…

The default should be off, not on, in my opinion. A browser should never, ever download content from a site that you didn’t specifically choose to visit. What are Google’s developers thinking?

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