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Ticking the 'I am Not a Robot' Box is Common While Surfing the Internet. Here's why it's Risky

'I Am Not A Robot' tickbox's well-kept secret shocks the whole of internet and increases concern over information breach.
PUBLISHED MAY 28, 2024
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Mati Mango
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Mati Mango

Having to assert that you aren't a robot is something that most people on the internet are asked to do from time to time. This checkbox may also be followed by a grid test, where people are asked to choose pictures showing specific objects. The common perception is that choosing these pictures correctly shows the software that the user is a human. According to a report by the Daily Mail, clicking on pictures does not prove to the software that the individual is a human being, but it is actually their history. Choosing that little box gives the software access to the user's history, which is something that has raised privacy concerns as well. 

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay

The 'I’m not a robot' checkbox is a form of CAPTCHA, which is an acronym for 'Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart.' As part of this, users are asked for permission to check out their history. The history is analyzed and then the site makes the decision about sharing data with the person on the other side. The purpose is to not allow AI to get a hold of their site's information as this could lead to hacking and put the site's security at risk.

The host of a BBC show that discussed this, explained how user history helps the software in deciding whether the user is a human or not. In a short snippet of the QI show, the host explained: "Broadly speaking, you tick the box and it prompts the website to check your browsing history. So let us say for example just before you tick the box you watched a couple of cat videos, you liked a tweet about Greta Thunberg. You checked your Gmail account before you got down to work. All of that makes them think that you must be a human." Information is fed into the software's database, to make decisions based on history. In cases, where it fails to take the call is when the grid is rolled out.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Digital Buggu
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Digital Buggu

Guardian reported in 2018, how Facebook profiles were made available to Cambridge Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon without any kind of authorization. This incident was one of many others that made people ask questions about those who have access to their personal information. As per Business Insider, 97% of internet users agree to the terms and conditions on their screen without reading them. In many cases like CAPTCHA, even the terms of conditions are not clear, putting people in a very vulnerable position.

Cloud Mask has listed many disadvantages of data breaches as history can reveal a lot about users, from political preferences to financial decisions. This can alert other organizations to direct advertisements based on their taste, opening them to manipulation. Moreover, data breaches can also make them unnecessary targets of bodies who might find them standing on the opposite side of their beliefs. Ultimately, the drawbacks imply that ticking that 'I am not a Robot' box might not actually be worth the risk.

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