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Cloudflare’s CEO said it is replacing Google’s reCAPTCHA tool with hCaptcha due to pricing, privacy and availability concerns.

Cloudflare is nixing Google’s reCAPTCHA tool and replacing it with what the network services company’s CEO calls “a better CAPTCHA” service, hCaptcha.

Google’s reCAPTCHA is a type of CAPTCHA (an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart”) that uses prompts to decipher humans from potentially malicious machines or bots. Cloudflare said the main driver for the swap was that Google is now charging for use of its reCAPTCHA tool – but customer privacy and availability were other factors.

“We’re excited about this change because it helps address a privacy concern inherent to relying on a Google service that we’ve had for some time and also gives us more flexibility to customize the CAPTCHAs we show,” said Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince, along with product manager Sergi Isasi, in a Wednesday post.

“When we were looking for a CAPTCHA for Cloudflare, we chose reCAPTCHA because it was effective, could scale, and was offered for free — which was important since so many of Cloudflare’s customers use our free service,” said Prince.

Google initially provided reCAPTCHA for free in exchange for data from the service, which was used to train its visual identification systems. But according to Prince, earlier this year Google said they plan to start charging for reCAPTCHA use. According to The Register, Google said there’s no charge for reCAPTCHA unless customers exceed one million queries per month (or 1,000 API calls per second).

While “it makes perfect sense for Google to ask for payment for the service they provide,” Prince said, “In our case, that would have added millions of dollars in annual costs just to continue to use reCAPTCHA for our free users. That was finally enough of an impetus for us to look for a better alternative.”
 
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