Google Want You to Pay Them to do Their Dirty Work

The nerve of these fuckers, eh!?

Google’s reCAPTCHA is a very popular CAPTCHA implementation. It’s likely that you yourself have clicked on the easily recognizable “I’m not a robot” box and identified pictures of store fronts, busses, and bridges. reCAPTCHA is a very efficient way for Google to train their image recognition software. When you identify store fronts, busses, and bridges for them, Google can sell their image recognition software to, say, autonomous car makers, and the autonomous cars won’t propel themselves into store fronts, busses, and bridges. Kinda sounds like a win-win for everyone, doesn’t it?

At first sight, yes, but as I’ve discussed before, image recognition software can be used for a lot of things. Back in March 2018, the sneaky bastards at Google started working with Pentagon to help them build AI for drones. So it might be that, when you click on those store fronts, busses, and bridges, you’re not helping autonomous vehicles avoid hitting them. You might be helping autonomous killer drones blow them up. Kinda gives you a bad taste in your mouth, doesn’t it?

Since that, Google hasn’t done much to reassure people that they are still among the few good guys on the internet. Quite the contrary. In May of 2018, just two months after their dangerous flirt with Pentagon was revealed, Google went ahead and removed the beloved “Don’t Be Evil” (Internet Archive Mirror) from its code of conduct.

Kinda makes you want to dump Google, doesn’t it?

But Wait, There’s More!

If you needed more reasons to purge Google from you digital life, here’s another one: As reported by ZDNet earlier this month, Google now plans to charge for the use of reCAPTCHA (Internet Archive mirror).

It wasn’t enough for Google that you trained their image recognition software for free. No, now they want you to pay them to train their software. The fucking nerve of these people, am I right?

You won’t have to pull out your credit card every time you fill out an annoying reCAPTCHA, of course. Instead, the corporation that uses the reCAPTCHA on its site might have to pay Google, but that cost will undoubtedly be transferred indirectly to you, the customer. One company that uses reCAPTCHA excessively, Cloudflare, has taken action. In a recent blog post (Internet Archive mirror), Cloudflare CEO CEO Matthew Prince writes about Cloudflare’s transition from reCAPTCHA to hCaptcha.

hCaptcha is different from reCAPTCHA in nearly every way. It protects user privacy, rewards websites, and helps companies get their data labeled. It is a drop-in replacement for reCAPTCHA, and you can switch within minutes. If you use reCAPTCHA on your site, please consider doing what Cloudflare did: Stop using it, and move to another CAPTCHA-implementation.


This post has no feedback yet.

Do you have any thoughts you want to share? A question, maybe? Or is something in this post just plainly wrong? Then please send an e-mail to vegard at vegard dot net with your input. You can also use any of the other points of contact listed on the About page.


It looks like you're using Google's Chrome browser, which records everything you do on the internet. Personally identifiable and sensitive information about you is then sold to the highest bidder, making you a part of surveillance capitalism.

The Contra Chrome comic explains why this is bad, and why you should use another browser.