Feeds

Google screws Scroogle

Scraped offline by interface change

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Microsoft to bake Skype into IE, without plugins
Redmond thinks the Object Real-Time Communications API for WebRTC is ready to roll
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
Mozilla: Spidermonkey ATE Apple's JavaScriptCore, THRASHED Google V8
Moz man claims the win on rivals' own benchmarks
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Ubuntu 14.10 tries pulling a Steve Ballmer on cloudy offerings
Oi, Windows, centOS and openSUSE – behave, we're all friends here
Was ist das? Eine neue Suse Linux Enterprise? Ausgezeichnet!
Version 12 first major-number Suse release since 2009
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.