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Screenshot of Scroogle.org taken October 14, 2008
|Type of site||Search Engine|
|Available language(s)||English and 27 others|
|Owner||Public Information Research, Inc.|
|Created by||Daniel Brandt|
|Launched||April 24, 2003|
Scroogle was a web service that allowed users to perform Google searches anonymously. It focused heavily on searcher privacy by blocking Google cookies and not saving log files. The service was launched in 2003 by Daniel Brandt. After 2005, the service encountered rapid growth before running into a series of problems starting in 2010. In February 2012, the service was permanently shut down by its creator due to a combination of throttling of search requests by Google and a denial-of-service attack by an unknown person or group. Before its demise, Scroogle handled around 350,000 queries daily and ranked among the top 4,000 sites worldwide in traffic.
Scroogle offered a web interface and browser plugins for Firefox, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer that allowed users to run Google searches anonymously. The service scraped Google search results, removing ads and sponsored links. Only the raw search results were returned, meaning features such as page preview were not available. For added security, Scroogle gave users the option of having all communication between their computer and the search page be SSL encrypted. Although Scroogle's activities technically violated Google's terms of service, Google generally tolerated its existence, whitelisting the site on multiple occasions.
Scroogle promised to delete all search terms within an hour and block Google's cookie files. All logs were deleted weekly, compared to the two years Google saves log files for. "Even if the feds come around and ask me questions I don't know the answer because I don't have the logs any more," claimed company president Daniel Brandt.
The service's name was a reference to both scraping and Ebenezer Scrooge. Scroogle was supported solely by user donations—an average of $43/day—and run by not-for-profit Public Information Research. At the time of its demise, Scroogle was running off a total of 7 servers.
Scroogle was created in 2003 by Google critic Daniel Brandt, who was concerned about Google collecting personal information on its users. Brandt said he created the service out of frustration of Google's transition from an "intellectual technical enterprise" to a big business focused on making money. "They (Google) have nothing but contempt for personal privacy," Brandt remarked, noting that among Google's stated goals was to collect more user information going forward. Scroogle was soon blocked by Google. In response, the service was moved to a new server and the source code published so that any who so desired could run Scroogle Scraper on their own computer. Brandt hoped the move would elicit a legal response by Google. He speculated that such a lawsuit would either make Google look bad, or his activity would be ruled legal and the case would "begin to restore a public-interest balance to the Web that has been declining ever since big money got behind the dotcoms."
Starting in 2005, Scroogle drew expanded media attention and experienced rapid growth. In October of 2005, daily visits numbered around 8,000. A June 2007 story in WorldNetDaily claimed that Scroogle was becoming the preferred search engine of civil libertarians. By December 2007, Scroogle had passed 100,000 visitors a day. By May 2010, daily queries were around 325,000. Brandt attributed the site's growth to consumers' growing privacy concerns. In November 2010, CNET reviewed the Scroogle Scraper extension for Google Chrome, giving it 5 stars (out of 5). "Scroogle Scraper lets you take advantage of Google's search engine without compromising your privacy or allowing your browsing and searching habits to be recorded. We recommend it for all Chrome users," wrote the reviewer.
In 2010, Scroogle was temporarily offline multiple times, generating headlines about Google blocking the service. In May 2010, Google removed a seldom used interface page that Scroogle relied on causing the site to no longer function properly. Google developer Matt Cutts indicated that Google was not specifically targeting Scroogle, but rather was no longer supporting Internet Explorer 6 for which the interface had been designed. "Due to significant decrease in usage, we discontinued this interface and are encouraging searchers to upgrade their browser," the company said in a statement. Brandt tweaked his site to rely on a different version of the interface page, which was subsequently removed in July. This time, Brandt was forced to do a complete redesign, which resulted in increased server load on his end. Scroogle went down a third time when Google redesigned its interface in November 2010.
In 2012, Scroogle began to have problems with Google throttling, being periodically blocked for 90-minute intervals. Google denied targeting Scroogle, saying the site may have been triggering automated anti-spam mechanisms. In February 2012, Scroogle was shut down by its creator. Brandt blamed a DDoS attack by someone with "a personal vendetta" combined with throttling by Google for the site's demise. He stated that his hosting providers had been unable to cope with the collateral damage from the attacks and had subsequently refused to reconnect him. Brandt's other sites—NameBase.org, Google-watch.org, CIA-on-campus.org, and book-grab.com—were also taken offline at the same time, but eventually returned. In a July 2012 statement, he reiterated that Scroogle would not return, writing "it was time to call it quits on Scroogle.org."
According to Alexa data, Scroogle was ranked in the top 4000 sites globally in terms of traffic at the time of its demise. It ranked in the top 2500 for the United States, Canada, The United Kingdom, Australia, and other countries. The site was handling around 350,000 searches a day.
See also 
- "PIR Staff Box". Retrieved 2008-06-25.[dead link]
- "WHOIS - scroogle.org". Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- "Fed up with Google? Try Scroogle.org: Powerful search tool without privacy violations". WorldNetDaily. 2007-06-04.
- "A note about SSL: How Scroogle's SSL option protects your privacy". PIR. 2008-06-07.[dead link]
- Jeffries, Adrianne (2012-02-21). "Scroogle, Privacy-First Search Engine, Shuts Down for Good | Betabeat — News, gossip and intel from Silicon Alley 2.0". Betabeat.com. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- Patrick Beuth (2012-02-15). "Anonymisierte Google-Suche über Scroogle ist blockiert". Die Zeit Online (in German).
- Rush, Dominic (2007-12-16). "Fears mount over internet privacy: Google rival Ask.com is promising to wipe out people’s search records within hours. But do the data really disappear?". The Sunday Times.
- Stonehouse, David (2005-06-18). "Searching for gold". The Age.
- "Fed up with Google? Try Scroogle.org". Wnd.com. 2007-06-04. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- Robin O'Brien Lynch (January 14, 2005). "Google Watch keeps sharp eye on 'Big Brother'". The Irish Times. p. 9. Unknown parameter
- "CloudFlare Watch". Crytome. July 8, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
- javed05 (May 13, 2010). "Google Search Anonymizer up and Running Again". TendersInfo.
- David Stonehouse (October 2, 2005). "Google, seven years later". The Ottawa Citizen. p. A1.
- "Scroogle Scraper - Download.com". Download.cnet.com. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "Scroogle-Abschuss durch Google?" (in (German)). Intern.de. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- Metz, Cade (2010-11-04). "Scroogle busted again after Google tweak". The Register.
- ""Scroogle.org Is Gone Forever" Says Site Owner". Searchengineland.com. 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "Scroogle.org Site Info". Alexa.com. Retrieved 2012-02-27.