Internet web infrastructure company Cloudflare announced plans to drop support for Google’s reCAPTCHA service and move to a new bot detection provider named hCaptcha.
Cloudflare co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince said the move was motivated by Google’s future plans to charge for the use of the reCAPTCHA service, which would have “added millions of dollars in annual costs” for his company, costs that Cloudflare would have undoubtedly had to unload on its customers.
Makes sense, and any less dependence on Google – especially when it comes to services like this, which people barely notice but do play a role in data collection.
However when you think about the way cloudflare was using the recaptcha service, google wasn’t able to track user behavior normally because at cloudflare only anomalous activity and heavily biased subset (aka tor users) would even reach the recaptcha prompts. I don’t think the volume was the main issue so much as the lack of quality: google was missing out on “normal activity”, rendering cloudflare hits mostly useless to them.
All and all I’m glad they’re switching away from recaptcha, it hasn’t been good for web privacy or accessibility, and thankfully I see more sites ditching it.