Scroogle is a popular search tool that takes your Google search, runs it through a system that that delivers Google results without revealing your IP address, setting a cookie, or any other kind of data gathering process. Users concerned with Google's data gathering and privacy practices use Scroogle to keep Google searches private, blocking ads and searching with SSL-encrypted connections.
Due to a major overhaul in the user interface of the Google search page, Scroogle is no longer able to reliably parse results and scrape identifiable data. They cite the simple interface that remained basically unchanged since the beginnings of the search giants as the main reason they have been able to so effectively and reliably wash results of their data.
"During those eight years there were only about five changes that required some programming adjustments. Also, this interface was available at every Google data center in exactly the same form, which allowed us to use 700 IP addresses for Google...Now that interface is gone. It is not possible to continue Scroogle unless we have a simple interface that is stable. Google's main consumer-oriented interface that they want everyone to use is too complex, and changes too frequently, to make our scraping operation possible. "
Scroogle has contacted Google to find out if the simple results interface that allowed the scraper to work will be put back into production at all. If they don't put it back, Scroogle is comparing Google's actions to Microsoft's policy on early Windows development.
"Microsoft didn't want a lot of other companies writing code that could compete. It wanted to keep the barriers to entry very high. The idea, in fact, was to keep raising the bar, putting in more layers of software and APIs, which developers would then have to support. Microsoft wanted to make it so gnarly that anybody who couldn't devote a team of one hundred programmers to every Windows application would be out of the game. (Barbarians Led by Bill Gates: Microsoft from the Inside by Jennifer Edstrom and Marlin Eller [New York: Henry Holt, 1998], p. 117)"
Images courtesy of Scroogle