Google have just launched a public DNS service via their blog where the service is positioned as part of Google’s “effort to make the web faster”. DNS in a nutshell is like a switchboard for the internet, and (normally) your ISP provides your DNS server which tells your browser how to find other websites. Google’s DNS service offers to speedup this process by providing faster DNS lookups and hence a faster internet.
Instructions on how to use Google’s DNS servers at a PC or router level can be found here. Before you make the change though, you might want to spare a thought as to why Google have really launched this ‘generous’ offer. If you route your traffic via Google’s DNS servers, they will be able to see and potentially track ALL of your internet usage. Not just usage when you visit a google property or use the google search engine, but all usage as all traffic will be routed from your PC or router via Google. This usage data is obviously worth a fortune and there is currently a battle going on between ISPs, browsers and other companies to control this DNS traffic as opportunities exist to monetise this traffic, particularly DNS errors (e.g. you type a sitename wrong like goooogle.com) and HTTP errors (e.g. 404 page not found – search engines and ISPs want to take over these pages as well). All of these parties are fighting to get to this traffic first; ISPs in tandem with partners like paxfire, barefruit and infospace at the network level, browsers in their settings and now Google by encouraging users to change their DNS settings manually.
Google have publicly stated that they won’t work at the network level as part of their ‘do no evil’ mantra. However intercepting DNS traffic to me seems to me to be very close to doing so. Disappointingly on the Google pages there is no mention of what Google intend to do with the traffic data that they will obtain from users who make the change. I personally don’t mind as I have nothing to hide online and I welcome more relevant advertising, so I’ve made the change but others may not want to make this change as they are not keen on Google’s latest attempt at worldwide domination.