A not-for-profit search engine that serves up a privacy-friendly version of Google has been out of action for much of today.
Scroogle, which has routinely been scraping the Chocolate Factory's search results since 2002 in very workmanlike fashion, sported an error message announcing that it was down for most of the day.
"Forbidden. So sorry... Google is temporarily blocking this Scroogle server. Please wait ten minutes before trying again."
Scroogle, which has just come back to life, reiterated that nearly every Scroogle searcher "is a live person clicking on a mouse".
It added that Google treats the site like a bot because traffic from Scroogle's IP addresses is – at times – higher than normal.
The outfit's search scraper – the source code for which was released in 2005 – acts as a proxy, hiding users' IP addresses from Mountain View, and delivering basic results pages without advertising or cross-referencing searches with other Google products.
The Register asked Google and Scroogle for comment but neither party had got back to us at time of writing.
In recent years, Scroogle has been unceremoniously booted off the interwebs by Google several times, after the company tweaked its output format to – at least temporarily – stop its search results from being scraped.
More sinisterly for conspiracy theorists, Google has vanished Scroogle from its search engine. Previously, even when the org's site was down it would still show up in the big G's results pages.
That's not the case anymore, however.
It could be that – ahead of Google's changes to its terms of service on 1 March – the company removed the interface page Scroogle was using to scrape the results from the ad broker's site.
Scroogle has form for doggedly coming back to life despite its battles with Google.
Its traffic is nearly always boosted when there's a public outcry about Mountain View's handling of data and privacy online... ®