Feeds

Microsoft bans Scroogle

Bah! Humbuggle!

Security for virtualized datacentres

Updated Microsoft's MSN Messenger service doesn't want you talking dirty - and its definition of dirty talk is quite peculiar.

If you send an instant message containing the word "scroogle.org" via the Microsoft service, the message never arrives. The sender doesn't know it was discarded, and the recipient has no indication that it was ever sent, as the original message remains in the chat window and history.

Scroogle.org is Daniel Brandt's Google scraping proxy. Scroogle scrapes Google's website to return its search results without ads - bypassing the Google cookie, and protecting the user's privacy, because Google is unable to match the searches to any other information- such as your IP address or your GMail account. Scroogle putters along, makes around 50,000 scrapes per day, without being sued. As Google has failed to challenge the legality of the service, it's an odd choice of domain for Microsoft to ban.

Or perhaps Microsoft thinks it's protecting us from filth - the company has made strange and arbitrary decisions before.

In 2002, it prevented Reg reader James Woodcock from signing up for its Passport authentication system, telling him that "Your lastname contains a word that has been reserved or is prohibited for .NET Passport registration." His alternative choice, "Harold Wanker", was happily accepted, while another reader, Dr. Mark Stitson found his name was failed the filth test. Internet filters have a less than noble history when it comes to blocking innocent sites, as the Horniman Museum discovered a couple of years ago.

So perhaps "scroogle" refers to some bizarre sexual practice, or, in some arcane vernacular, is a term for the human genitalia. But if that's true, it hasn't shown up in Roger's Profanisaurus [probably NSFW], which we regard as the definitive resource in these matters.

We contacted Microsoft for an explanation on Friday, but they haven't returned our call. Brandt hadn't heard of the block, but he also declined to comment.

Have readers discovered any apparently innocuous trigger words? Let us know. ®

UpdateThanks to the Gaim project's Stu Tomlinson for explaining the cause of the mystery:

If you try to send a message containing any of the words' ".pif", ".scr", "download.php" or "gallery.php" the message will be silently discarded. The official client from Microsoft will provide no indication to either the sender or recipient that the message didn't go through.

So "Scroogle.org" goes through fine. Gaim detects this and tells you the message wasn't delivered. Can't Microsoft tell if a .scr is a .scr or not?

"Pah. What a pants regex!" says Alain Moran, summing it up nicely. Chalk another triumph up to genius censorware...

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.