HomeWinBuzzer NewsCloudflare Launches Tool to Combat Unauthorized AI Web Scraping

Cloudflare Launches Tool to Combat Unauthorized AI Web Scraping

Cloudflare is fighting back against AI bots scraping website data for training. Their free tool uses analysis to identify and block the bots.


Cloudflare has launched a tool designed to halt AI bots from extracting data from websites hosted on its platform. This complimentary tool emerges as a response to the rising unauthorized data scraping aimed at training AI models.

As AI vendors like , , and allow website owners to control bot access via the robots.txt file, the challenge of AI bots scraping data intensifies. Robots.txt is a text file on a website that tells search engine crawlers, like Googlebot, which parts of the site they can and cannot access. Think of it as a set of instructions for bots. points out that many scrapers ignore these directives, which has led to growing concerns.

Traffic Analysis and Detection

To address this challenge, Cloudflare has improved its bot detection by examining AI bot and crawler traffic. This involves assessing if an AI bot mimics normal user browser behavior. The detection models utilize traffic patterns to pinpoint and flag suspect AI bots, who often use identifiable tools.

Cloudflare has also established a reporting mechanism for web hosts to flag suspected bots and plans to continue blacklisting these AI bots as needed. With the rise in demand for model training data, many sites now block AI scrapers, demonstrated by some 26% of the top 1,000 websites blocking OpenAI's bot.

Obstacles in AI Bot Blocking

Blocking AI bots remains a challenge. Certain vendors appear to overlook standard exclusion rules, with reports accusing AI search engine Perplexity of improper scraping practices. OpenAI and have reportedly violated robots.txt guidelines as well.

According to TollBit, a content firm, many AI agents ignore the robots.txt standard. Tools like Cloudflare's new solution could be beneficial, though their success hinges on precise detection. Publishers also face the risk of losing traffic from AI tools like Google's AI Overviews if they enforce stringent blocking.

Customer Feedback and Security Measures

The new tool was developed in reaction to customer dissatisfaction with unscrupulous AI bots. Many clients object to bots that use dishonest methods. Cloudflare's tool includes a simple, one-click option to block all AI bots, simplifying security measures for website administrators.

In August of last year, OpenAI provided guidance on using robots.txt to block its GPTbot crawler. Following suit, Google implemented similar measures the next month. By September, Cloudflare offered AI bot-blocking features, with a reported 85% customer adoption rate.

Scope of AI Bot Traffic

Cloudflare reports that AI bots currently visit around 39% of the top one million web properties it hosts. Despite the use of robots.txt, non-compliance has minimal repercussions, paralleling the ineffectiveness of the Do Not Track browser header.

Recent scrutiny has accused AI bots, such as Perplexity's, of ignoring robots.txt protocols. Amazon is investigating claims that Perplexity's bots have accessed and reproduced web content without proper permission. Perplexity's CEO confirmed that third-party bots were responsible.

Machine Learning Detection

Cloudflare's scoring system consistently identifies disguised Perplexity bots as automated, using digital fingerprinting techniques to track their activities. Cloudflare processes an average of 57 million requests per second, providing robust data necessary for identifying and managing digital fingerprints. The bot-blocking feature is available to all users, including those on the free tier.

Cloudflare anticipates that AI entities might continually refine their methods to avoid detection. To counter this, the company plans to enhance its detection models and expand bot blocks within its AI Scrapers and Crawlers rule, aiming to safeguard .

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.