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When you enter something in the search bar right before it connects to google, can an ISP see that?

  • "right before it connects to google" - what search bar are you talking about? – schroeder Aug 11 '19 at 15:47
  • It can see that you searched on google, but they can't see, what. They can also see, to which host did you connect after that, but they can't see, to exact which URL. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Aug 11 '19 at 15:58
  • @schroeder I don't know which google you're using, but my google has only 1 search bar when i go to google.com – Awaaaaarghhh Aug 11 '19 at 16:25
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    @Awaaaaarghhh the OP said "before it connects to google", so she could mean that they are not on the Google page ... Like the search bar in the browser ... and some search bars are provided by the ISP ... – schroeder Aug 11 '19 at 16:33
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    @schroeder "you enter something in the search bar" -> your browser sends message to google and "before it connects to google" it goes over your ISP. – Awaaaaarghhh Aug 11 '19 at 16:38
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No, that's a parameter that will be sent to Google after the HTTPS encrypted connection is established.

The ISPs can only see the root URL you are going to "www.google.com". The encryption between your browser and Google is the first thing established. After that, your ISP sees only encrypted data.

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  • Right but can’t isps see that? – Sally Aug 10 '19 at 23:43
  • I added to the answer for you. – user10216038 Aug 10 '19 at 23:51
  • GET and POST parameters are not visible if the message is sent over encrypted connection – Awaaaaarghhh Aug 11 '19 at 16:19
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It depends.

By default, you connect to Google with https, meaning that in most cases your ISP only sees that you are accessing Google. They don't see what you're searching for (but Google does, of course). There are exceptions here, including DoH which can potentially hide the name of the website you're visiting from your ISP. On the other hand, some parts of the world can force you to install certificates that will essentially allow your ISP (or anyone with the private key) to see your traffic without issue. This is sometimes done stealthily by criminals and governments, and sometimes it's something you agree to (ie some companies make you install their certificate so they can snoop on your traffic).

You can also access Google over plain old http, meaning that your ISP sees everything you search for on Google.

As for whether your ISP sees what you type in to the blank before you press enter, this is unlikely. Sure, some sites are capable of doing this, and do so mostly for analytics. I don't know whether Google does or not. If they do, and your connection is not secure, then your ISP can see what you type in as you type it in. I have never noticed this behavior from Google. However, there isn't really a point because they will see your completed search anyway- they don't need a character-by-character update stream.

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    Google no longer allows "plain old http", so that's not a concern. Yes, if your personal machine is compromised by forced MiTM certificates or any other mechanism, all bets are off, but that's not the question. No, it's not "unlikely", it doesn't happen period. You can easily confirm this for yourself by capturing your own traffic and looking. – user10216038 Aug 11 '19 at 15:17
  • Of course what the user types in the search bar goes to Google with every key typed: that's how the "suggest" feature works. – schroeder Aug 11 '19 at 15:46
  • @schroeder good point, forgot about that one. – Pheric Aug 11 '19 at 17:32
  • Soo the overall answer is no....? But google can see it? – Sally Aug 11 '19 at 19:57
  • @Sally The short answer is "it depends, but most likely not." Google can see it though, and I would be more worried about that than just your ISP. – Pheric Aug 11 '19 at 20:08

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