In the wake of Data Collection getting some discussion in the media, and greater scrutiny by governmental bodies, I felt that there was perhaps too much focus on Facebook, and that something that Google has been doing has just skirted past everyone's minds.
CAPTCHAs are everywhere. In the early days of the web, developers wanted a way to guarantee that certain users were real people, and not just automated tools.
Enter reCAPTCHA, Google's solution to this problem. Solve a small problem that is difficult for an AI to do, and prove that you're human, all by simply including a little bit of code on your website.
But there are many problems with that idea.
Many of these problems could be applied to all forms of CAPTCHA served by a central server, but considering the prevalence of Google's reCAPTCHA, I think they are particularly poignant when combined with the overreach which I believe Google exercises.
Assumption about User Ability
The first is is that you, as a website owner, are making an implicit declaration that the users of your site be able to solve whatever problem is being asked.
In the early days this meant working on the assumption that your users would be able to read distorted text. Never mind if they speak another language, or have difficulty reading.
In more recent iterations of reCAPTCHA, this task is usually a visual recognition task. Perhaps better as it doesn't require a language solution, but you are still requiring site visitors to understand what the question is asking.
I come across elderly users of the web who are confounded when faced with challenges such as this, because after all: "if i'm just trying to access mail, or read the news, why am I suddenly being asked to click on random pictures?" - Clicking on random stuff that isn't what you were originally looking for is not a lesson we ought to be teaching novice internet users.
This also doesn't help a new internet user from a foreign country, who might never have seen a storefront from an image of a British Street, or an American car, and when prompted to select one, might not be able to answer. Are they a robot because of this?
You might suggest using an audio-based reCAPTCHA? Well considering the recent