It looks like Google is testing a proxy server based data compression feature for its Chrome for Android mobile browser. The latest build of Chromium, the open source browser project which Chrome is built upon, sports this new functionality. The feature was first spotted
by developer Francois Beaufort, who talked about it in a Google+ post.
Google, in the description of the feature, mentions
that it will 'Reduce data consumption by loading optimized web pages via Google proxy servers.' The code also mentions Google's SPDY proxy servers. SPDY, a short form for Speedy, is Google's experimental protocol
for transporting content over the web, designed specifically for minimal latency. It forces SSL encryption for all websites (even non-secure ones) to speed up browsing.
The feature can be enabled by running a command, 'adb shell 'echo "chrome -enable-spdy-proxy-auth" > /data/local/tmp/content-shell-command-line' via the Android SDK. Note that you'll need to connect your phone in debugging mode with your computer for executing it.
It would be interesting to see if Google decides to push the feature in the next update to the Chrome for Android browser, and keeps it on by default.
Many browsers including Opera Mini, Amazon's Silk browser, and Nokia's Xpress browser use proxy servers for compressing and keeping website data, while delivering web pages to users' devices, cutting their data consumption and boosting website loading speeds. But this also means that user data resides on their own servers. We're not sure how Google will address privacy and security concerns. Recently, a controversy
surrounding Nokia decrypting data from secure pages (HTTPS), had led to the company issuing a statement confirming that it doesn't collect any data. It had also updated its browser so that data is not decrypted on the servers.
We just hope that Google gives the ability to turn off compression to users, and doesn't keep the feature on by default, as a lot of users might be unaware of it.