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Google faces fresh antitrust probe for trying to make Chrome safer

DoH! Google is in trouble again.

Published onSeptember 30, 2019

google logo big g at mwc 2019

Google has been subject to various antitrust investigations in the recent past. Now, fresh allegations are being dumped on the Mountain View-based tech company for planning to adopt a new internet protocol called DNS over HTTPS (DoH).

An investigation is being conducted by the US House Judiciary Committee, reports Wall Street Journal. Investigators want to assess if Google uses any personal user data gained through the DoH protocol for commercial purposes. As per WSJ, the Judiciary Committee had shared a letter with Google inquiring about its intentions to use the new protocol on September 13.

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The DNS over HTTPS protocol is designed to increase user privacy and prevent manipulation of DNS data by passing it over an HTTPS connection. It is also useful in preventing man-in-the-middle attacks wherein users are directed to a malicious IP address. Google is expected to test the new protocol in the Chrome browser starting next month.

If implemented, the DoH protocol could take away access to precious DNS browsing data from wireless and cable companies. The report adds, “House investigators are worried this would give the Internet giant an unfair advantage by denying access to users’ data.”

A Google spokesperson said, “Google has no plans to centralize or change people’s DNS providers to Google by default. Any claim that we are trying to become the centralized encrypted DNS provider is inaccurate.”

DoH! Google is in trouble again

Google is no stranger to antitrust controversies. These scrutinies stem from the company’s alleged abuse of dominance in advertising, search, and Android software practices. Google is undoubtedly the biggest player in all three categories — digital ads, search, and smartphone OS — in the world.

We’ve already seen the company incur penalties amounting to billions of dollars in Europe on the back of anti-competitive behavior. Ongoing probes in the EU region, as well as India may add a couple of more zeroes to those billions.

In the US too, 48 states recently launched a massive antitrust investigation of Google citing alleged monopolistic practices in advertising.

Incidentally, Google is not the only one testing the new privacy-focused internet protocol. Mozilla started testing it on Firefox in March 2018. The company reported promising results of its test and said that DoH queries are the same speed, if not faster, compared to DNS queries.

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