Web Culture Experts Trade Views Regarding Google’s Plan to Deprecate HTTP

While Google can’t decide whether to actually deprecate HTTP as a protocol or not, they are starting to penalize sites that use HTTP instead of HTTPS when it comes to search ranking. Google isn’t forcing these sites to vanish, though it is ranking them further down the list. More importantly, they’ve flagged them as insecure in Chrome, which is currently the most used browser on most devices with perhaps the exception of GTK+ based GNU/Linux desktops.

World Wide Web historians, security experts and others are now starting to trade views on whether Google’s decisions are a good idea or not. Content writer and top software blogger Dave Winer wrote a post that’s now appeared in quotes on Slashdot as well as other top technology news sites in which he said he was opposed because it would make a great deal of the web’s history inaccessible to users.

He referred to Google as a guest, and suggested that guests should not make rules as the web functions based on social agreements not to cause problems for one another. Winer wrote that people post things on the web so that they can be preserved over time.

Other voices, however, have argued in favor of Google’s decision by saying that old sites are becoming attack vectors and this makes them insecure even if no one accesses them. Crackers have continued to look for areas that are not secured and use them for purposes completely unrelated to what they were designed for.

Critics also argue that this is true regardless of whether or not they collect any sort of user data. JavaScript code objects can be installed on dead pages that fall victim to crackers in order to make them do something other than simply display information.

While the debate ranges it, it doesn’t seem likely that Chromium, the open-source project behind Chrome, would ever become unable to access sites that use HTTP. It will simply continue to flag them insecure based on the judgment of certain Linux security experts.

At the same time, some projects like the Internet Archive continue to map the web in order to provide a useful backlog that’s accessible from behind the HTTPS protocol.

Kamil Anwar
Kamil is a certified MCITP, CCNA (W), CCNA (S) and a former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.