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Google puts brakes on Accelerator

Company stops downloads of new Web software, blaming capacity issues. However, some have complained it compromises privacy.

Google has stopped allowing downloads of its Web Accelerator software, just days after it began offering the product.

Google cited capacity as the reason for putting the brake on downloads of Accelerator, which is designed to speed the delivery of Web pages. A message on the site said the company has reached its "maximum capacity of users and (we) are actively working to increase the number of users we can support."

A Google representative denied on Wednesday that the removal of the tool was connected to the security fears. "It is a limited beta," he said, "and we reached the capacity of users."

The software was launched Thursday but within a day was causing concern among people when it transpired that the software cached more data than many people felt comfortable with, enabling individuals in some cases to log onto secure online pages of others.

Accelerator, which was released in beta, is set up to automatically work with Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer once it has been downloaded. The service stores copies of sites frequently accessed by individual PCs and automatically retrieves new data from those pages, so that a Web browser needs to process only updates to those sites when asked to load them. It can also automatically "pre-fetch" frequently used Web sites before a person downloads it.

On a Google Labs discussion group, one person said that the security implications of Google caching details of Internet sessions were unacceptable. In a statement at the time, Google said the service can receive information such as a person's IP address, computer and connection information, and "personally identifiable information," such as an e-mail address. But, Google said, information entered in SSL connections, such as Internet banking, will not be cached.

Matt Loney of ZDNet UK reported from London.