The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

"Prefetching" webpages 

For some time, Google has had a feature that allows you to search for a term and automatically be redirected to the top scoring page. It's called "I feel lucky." I don't know how often it is used, but I'd guess often enough for Google to keep it there on the default search page.

In an effort to speed up browsing, Google is implementing "prefetching" of top search results. They'll put in a link that is, in effect, a command to your browser that it should go and retrieve the top result in the background so it'll already be loaded if you click on it. Sounds convenient. But it has more than a few SlashDotters worried. To anyone reviewing your cache or looking at your network connection (such as a sysadmin), it looks as though you manually surfed to that page which may not reflect well upon you. It will really depend upon what you search for, but there are a number of other unpleasant possibilities of this "feature". Anybody can capriciously put tags into their pages and have completely unknown pages loaded onto your computer. I could put this on my page "<link rel="prefetch" href="">" and whoever reviews the firewall logs at your workplace will think you're up to no good. Or I could prefetch a link to an advertiser from my site so it'll look like every visitor has clicked on an ad, putting pennies in my pocket.

The "prefetch" function is enabled by default in Mozilla browsers such as FireFox. I don't think that IE has this feature, but it may in future versions. Users would be sensible to disable it.

See:Slashdot | Google Prefetching for Mozilla Browsers;

See: Google Information for Webmasters; and

See: Link Prefetching FAQ.

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