Google Protecting Itself Or Harming The “Innocent”

Google blocking privacy technology
over at Boing Boing has Cory Doctorow
writing up how Google is blocking some proxy servers from making requests. An
attempt by Google to stop those trying to protect themselves from prying eyes?
Many have told him that it’s Google likely stopping automated request from
proxies. That doesn’t let Google off the hook. Cory writes:

But that doesn’t change the essential point: Google is fighting bots by
compromising its users’ privacy — the countermeasure is a form of punishing the
innocent to get at the guilty.

OK, Cory, let’s spin it around. Let’s say that someone starts hitting Boing
Boing with thousands of automated requests. Maybe they want to scrape your
content to harvest a little AdSense cash. Maybe they don’t like you. They do
this through anonymous proxies. Ultimately, you decide to block requests from
those proxies. Can we now declare that move was Boing Boing punishing the
innocent to get at the guilty?

I like that we have proxies to help those who are worried about privacy to
stay anonymous. There are plenty of people with that type of need. But let’s
also not paint Google or other services that can seriously get impacted by
automated queries into somehow being evil if they’ve had to stop from getting
slammed. A more constructive move will be to hope that Google can figure out a
way to help support some proxies but also not simply get abused itself by them.

Postscript: Please see More On Google & Blocking Privacy Proxies.

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