David vs. Googliath

Did Google Just Disable Privacy-Friendly Scroogle? [UPDATED]

scroogle mask Did Google Just Disable Privacy Friendly Scroogle? [UPDATED]

A satirical image from Scroogle, reflecting the search engine's tendentious position on Google's privacy policy. (scroogle.org)

UPDATE: Google says it did not target Scroogle specifically. “We do have automated systems to deter scraping or excessive queries to Google, and spikes in query traffic can cause issues for some sites,” a spokesman said in an email.

Not long ago, Google changed its privacy policy to give itself more liberties with user data. Every time a major Internet company gets media attention for privacy issues, search volume goes way up on Scroogle, a little independent, nonprofit search engine. Scroogle scrapes its search results from Google, but it shields a user’s real IP address and prevents Google from setting a cookie, making it impossible for Google to tell which searches are from the same person; it also does not show ads. But today, the 11-year-old service stopped working.

Scrooglers who attempt a search right now get an error message: “Forbidden. So sorry… Google is temporarily blocking this server.”

Google has blocked Scroogle twice before, according to U.K.-based The Register, albeit unintentionally. The service has actually received help on a few occasions from Google employees, says Scroogle creator Daniel Brandt, who also operates the blog Google Watch.

Already, users are sending letters to the Federal Trade Commission.

The note from Scroogle:

Yes, Scroogle is upset with Google.

1. Google handles 1 billion searches per day, while Scroogle handled 350,000 searches per day. This means that Scroogle was 0.035 percent of Google’s load.

2. Google owns 900,000 servers, while Scroogle leased just six low-end dedicated servers.

3. Google has $45 billion in the bank, while Scroogle is a recognized public charity and survives on modest donations averaging $43 per day.

4. For more than seven years, Scroogle has always made serious efforts to detect and block any and all bots. Almost every Scroogle searcher is a live person clicking on a mouse. Yet Google treats Scroogle like a bot because they see the traffic from our IP addresses as higher than normal. Searching Google with a bot is against Google’s terms of service, but Scroogle users are not bots.

Is it “Terms of Service” for Google, or is it “Terms of Monopoly”?

Google and Scroogle did not immediately respond to emails. We’ll keep digging.

Follow Adrianne Jeffries on Twitter or via RSS. ajeffries@observer.com

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Who comes up with all that stuff??
    Total-Privacy dot US

    1. An Observer says:

       Here’s something telling…

      Scroogle has ceased to work for me
      (after several days of an error message pointing the finger at
      google.).  This could point in the direction of Hackers or Google. 
      However my next piece of evidence:

      1.  Do a google search for scroogle.  Notice that http://www.scroogle.org does not come up.
      2. Go to Yahoo and search for scroogle.  Scroogle.org DOES come up first.
      3. Go to Bing and search for scroogle.  Scroogle.org DOES come up first.
      4. Go to ixquick and search for scroogle.  Scroogle.org DOES come up first.

      One of these things is not like the other… (points in the direction of Google)

      1. Jimmyhat says:

        Google is Big Brother squared. Google is evil.
        Scroogle is (was?) providing a great service!
        Write the FTC on scroogle’s behalf!

  2. M94 B says:

    This message pops up all the time.  Sometimes it goes away “in 10 minutes” and sometimes it lasts longer.  What’s so special about this time?

    1. Anonymous says:

      Has it worked for you today though? It’s been serving up that error all day.

      1. M94 B says:

        Hmm…  Alright, perhaps this is something else.  No, still not working.

  3. JS says:

    This was working for me now, but I have seen it when it’s not working. At any rate, Google is up to something with their privacy policy and we’re trying to stop. Please everyone, check out and sign our petition to make Google transparent and stop the privacy policy. 

    http://www.change.org/petitions/google-ask-fairly-about-our-privacy

  4. daniel brandt is lying says:

    Scroogle’s owner Daniel Brandt is lying and falsely blaming Google, just like he blames them for everything. Google is a convenient scapegoat for a conspiracy nut like Brandt. The truth is that he is getting DDoS’d for being the biggest dickhead on the Internet (Just a guess but I can imagine that is the reason). Just Google Daniel Brandt+blackmail to see what the Internet thinks about him.
    https://www.google.com/search?client=ubuntu&channel=fs&q=Daniel+Brandt%2Bblackmail&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

    http://images.encyclopediadramatica.ch/9/94/DanielBrandtFriendsOfRyanCleary.jpg
    Attachment is a post made by Daniel Brandt on a hidden forum on the Wikipedia-Review explaining the real reason Scroogle is down.

    1. Jose says:

       Would be nice if we could actually READ your attachment.  You draw conclusions which we do not know the veracity of.  BTW Scroogle was much more user friendly INHO.  Which dept of Google do you work in?

  5. Here says:

    Name call scroogle and it’s owners all you want, but it serve an important need and purpose… unless you LIKE google crawling up your butt every time you search for something on the web?

    1. derp says:

      Use DuckDuckGo or one of the other search engines that serve the same purpose.

  6. Gabriel Serlenga says:

    Scroogle’s homepage, as well as Brian Brandt’s Google-Watch sites, have both disappeared, and do not even show up in an ordinary public Google search anymore. There was news that Scroogle was hacked. All this happens weeks before the big (Brother) change to Google’s privacy policy starting March 1, 1012.  This is strange and ominous to me.

  7. Jimmyhat says:

    Scroogle.org now takes you to….
    GOOGLE!
    UGGGHHH!
    How does THAT happen???!!

  8. Scroogleisamazing says:

    SCROOGLE WAS AWESOME. google’s privacy policy is BS. They are Big Brother’s helper sold out and evil. Brandt in this case is right. too bad scroogle is gone.