Cloudflare declares war on AI bots

Will use AI to identify and block website scraping bots.

Cloudflare declares war on AI bots
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Jonathon Young

Cloudflare declares war on AI bots. Will use AI to identify and block website scraping bots with one click.

Tired of AI firms sponging up your data for training their models while your website visitors dry up?

You are not alone, says Cloudflare.

The battle so far

I've written previously about how top tech firms have cut corners in their quest to harvest data for training their AI models.

Yup, they have been training AI models using copyrighted media such as published books, online articles, and YouTube videos protected by terms of service.

AI firms have moved on to the next phase, and are signing licensing deals left, right, and centre with sites like Reddit and news publications to access fresher data.

But that's another story, which you can read in "They are coming for your data" here.

Website owners don't want AI

For now, website owners apparently don't like the idea of AI bots scraping their data, according to Cloudflare.

When given a choice to block AI bots that behave well, meaning they adhere to robots.txt and don't steal data for AI training, Cloudflare says its customers still opted to block them.

Cloudflare hence decided to double down and launched a "single click" option to block all AI bots. And it's available to all, including those on the free tier.

If you can't beat 'em, you block 'em.

Cat and mouse

Blocking AI bots isn't easy though, as some AI firms pretend to be real web browsers (Surprise!)

But Cloudflare says they have the technological chops to identify the pretenders.

  • Machine learning (ML) model scores each visit.
  • Global signals aggregated to compute Bot Score.
  • Promises to evolve, improve detection technology.

Cloudflare says the objective of its initiative is to preserve a safe Internet for content creators.

What do you think of Cloudflare's initiative?

(A) Fantastic move!
(B) It's better than nothing.
(C) It's a hopeless cause.

Read the Cloudflare announcement on its blog here.