Feeds

Google screws Scroogle

Scraped offline by interface change

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Post-Microsoft, post-PC programming: The portable REVOLUTION
Code jockeys: count up and grab your fabulous tablets
Twitter App Graph exposes smartphone spyware feature
You don't want everyone to compile app lists from your fondleware? BAD LUCK
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
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.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.