Feeds

Google screws Scroogle

Scraped offline by interface change

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Scroogle, the privacy-friendly Google scraper, has been crippled by changes to one of the dominant search engine's interface pages.

The unheralded alterations to google.com/ie yesterday could mean Scroogle has to be "permanently retired", its operator Daniel Brandt wrote.

"Over the next few days we will attempt to contact Google and determine whether the old interface is gone as a matter of policy at Google, or if they simply have it hidden somewhere and will tell us where it is so that we can continue to use it," he added.

The Register contacted Google for comment this morning but we haven't heard back.

"If we don't hear from Google by next week, I think we can all assume that Google would rather have no Scroogle, and no privacy for searchers, at all," Brandt wrote.

Brandt has been using the page to grab search results since 2002, when he set up Google Watch, an attempt by the non-profit group Public Information Research to draw more scrutiny to Google's growing influence. It complained about Google's vast mines of search data and cookie-based tracking before regulators noticed.

Brandt has also been prominent critic of Wikipedia, which Google has donated millions of dollars to.

The Scroogle search scraper acted as a proxy, hiding users' IP addresses from Mountain View, and delivering basic results pages without advertising or cross-referencing searches with Gmail. The scraper source code was released in 2005.

The interface that Scroogle scraped served up generic web search results without other services such as news search that have been added to standard Google results in recent years. The changes made yesterday redirect traffic to google.com/ie, which formerly carried a search box, to a page that suggests downloading Internet Explorer with a pre-installed Google toolbar.

"Our impression was that these results were from Google's basic algorithms, and that extra features and ads were added on top of these generic results," Brandt wrote of the old set-up.

"Three years ago Google launched 'Universal Search', which meant that they added results from other Google services on their pages. But this simple interface we were using was not affected at all."

Some Scroogle users have begun using Ixquick, a Dutch search engine that stores no search records, while Scroogle is offline.

Google's chief executive Eric Schmidt recently drew heavy criticism by summing up his own attitude to privacy as: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

Scroogle's statement is here. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.