Chrome bandwidth reduction system breaks geolocation

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Yesterday I pointed out that the new Google Chrome browser had received an extra feature to help reduce your data usage. The system pushes websites through a data compression proxy to squash down images and compress HTML, JavaScript and CSS.

However, there’s a bit of a problem which I’ve noticed a few hours after writing the original story.

As this is a proxy, some websites have trouble determining where you’re browsing from. Here, for example, is the BBC News website with Google Chrome “Reduce Data Usage” option turned on. I’m basically receiving the world-wide version of the page and not the UK-specific front page..

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If I turn the “Reduce Data Usage” option off, bypassing the proxy, I get the usual UK website..

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Likewise, if I choose the Desktop version of the BBC News website with the data compression on, I get the global advert-filled version..

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With data compression off, I get the UK version, which has no adverts..

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Now, you’re original IP address is still showing, but it seems like some websites are seeing the Google proxy instead and (in my case) they’re seeing 66.249.93.223 as my IP and delivering a totally different page. Most geolocation systems will pick this up as being in California. Sadly though, this doesn’t mean that you can access US TV content easily as their geolocation seems to be a bit more accurate ;)