(Guatemala) Google is sorry.

Browsing the web from Guatemala is always an adventure. Works okay when there's electricity, which hasn't been very steady while I've been down here over the last few weeks (there have been some big blackouts here related to a sketchy power grid, and unusually intense windstorms). What sucks worse than the lights dimming, or DSL or sat bombing out? Constant Google cockblocking. I keep getting these dumb-ass messages that say I'm spyware. Google demands a captcha input (en Ingles), and even after I comply, I'm blocked (now en Espanol). Other pals who are native chapines, or who live in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, are saying over IM that this is super super common for them down here, and friends in Ghana get this all the time, too. Gah. Sorry my ass!


  1. Ah, the fun of Google deciding what you are, and thus how to treat you. It was fun when they forced me into using Google.cz in the Czech Republic last month, but it was *really* fun when they simply shut me down for 10 days with no reason this month.

    Proposed Google motto revision – “We’ll decide what’s evil, thanks.”

  2. My company was completely shut off from Google for one day with this nonsense (in English, not Spanish). I don’t know what Google thinks they are gaining from this, but unless their operations are teetering on the brink of collapse it seems like they should try to be a bit more liberal in what they allow.

  3. I got this screen once. It seemed to happen for no apparent reason. I hit the refresh and it went away, never seen it again.

  4. Just got back from Mexico for the holidays, and I got this every time. Kind of pointless, because as soon as I went anywhere else there was no blockage.

  5. When surfing from a non-home, non-work network, I make sure to use an SSH tunnel. Among other things, it will work around this issue.

  6. Is this the page that lets you perform the search after entering a captcha? This happened all day at my workplace (in the UK) this Tuesday.

  7. @beanolini, yeah what sucks is that even after the captcha, i’m still blocked! i rebooted the router and tried safari en vez de firefox and got around it, but seriously, screw google.

  8. My Spanish is good enough to puzzle out the approximate meaning of the message, but not good enough to do a proper translation of the whole thing. Someone else want to give it a go?

  9. This generally means that someone on your ip block is probably spamming google with queries (or has in the recent past). There are people who use botnets to scrape information from google. There may very well be some active google-scraping botnet nodes near you.

  10. We get that message (in English) from time to time when browsing from an ADSL connection here in South Africa.

  11. I ran into this problem many times while traveling and using public access points (cafes, hotels, airports, so on…). Basically there’s always someone that blacklists the public IP of the location, or in some cases entire IP blocks.

    I’ve found that the quickest way to evade this blacklisting is to use the TOR network (if you can connect to it from where you are). Of course it suffers from the same problem since exit nodes are often blacklisted as well, but if you cycle through a few you usually find one that Google allows.

    It’s slow, but if you absolutely must use Google it’s usually the most straightforward way. Just remember that with TOR your traffic is bound to have lots of eyeballs pointed at it, so don’t use it for anything sensitive without a layer of encryption.

  12. Sometimes Google mistakes a person for a bot, and it sucks to be that person.

    For some reason, which I don’t think Google wants to share with us, the likelihood of this happening seems to increase a lot if you happen to be in a 3rd world country.

    This reminds me of another problem I’ve had: emails getting stuck in spam filters. Almost every time this has happened to me, the sender has been in Africa or Central America (while only a tiny fraction of all of my email correspondence has to do with those regions.) An African colleague nowadays pokes me on Facebook every time she sends an email – just to make sure I’ll notice if it gets lost.

    I’ve tried to temporarily work under those conditions and it’s awful. You never know if the important document you sent reached each recipient, you never know if you’ll be able to use Google when you need it. You end up making a lot of phonecalls to apologise for delays and to make sure people received your mail, and your 1st world colleagues will think that you’re making excuses because they never have these problems.

    There are ways to go around this, but your average user won’t be familiar with them, and that’s just not a good enough solution.

    I’m sure a lot of spam comes through African and Central American IPs, but treating all African and Central American internet users as spammers is not the right way to solve the problem.

  13. I’ve been getting this a lot when I surf Google Groups using Safari. Someone on a forum there said it’s a bug that affects all browsers except IE.

  14. Yup. I live in Guatemala, and this has happened a couple of times, maybe 1 or 2 in the past year though. Maybe the ISP? I get it at work, never at home… hmmm…

  15. I used many Google services in Ghana at the hostel I stayed at, the office I worked at or the nearby internet cafes. I don’t think that’s a problem in Accra.

  16. In not-very-related Google annoyances, why does every Google page — search, map, groups, gmail, etc. — reset my Firefox character encoding from Western (ISO-8859-1) to frigging Unicode? Every single time? Reset-to-Western + refresh = Unicode, even. I hate Unicode. Hardly anyone uses it. It doesn’t render many, many characters correctly. Color me off-pissed.

  17. last weekend google starte blocking my mac safari and my girlfriend´s pc firefox.

    hey this even happens in the incredibly evolved land of Chile.
    if you are behind a router, just reset it, and also the adsl modem.

    that worked like magic for me.

  18. I’m in Beijing and I always get this problem when trying to use Google’s Language Tools site. I search Google with Scroogle Scraper, one way around the problem. * also no cookies, no search-term records and access the log is deleted within 48 hours :)

  19. The same thing happens in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) – Google asks me to input an anti-spam code. This becomes very annoying very soon, and incidentally seems to happen a lot more with Firefox than IE.

  20. These messages are because the ISP used in these countries force their users through a transparent HTTP proxy to save money for the ISP. TPG in Australia does this too.

    For this reason, just one person needs to be infected using the same proxy as you and possibly hundreds of other users to set off the anti spam google page.

    Keep in mind any sort of ISP side filtering systems are basically glorified proxies too.

    You can check if you are using a proxy here: http://whatismyipaddress.com/

    fnarf, you need to fix your browser if you can’t see Unicode encoded characters. There’s a lot more supported characters with UTF-8 and up than ISO-8859-1. There’s people out there who use non western characters too…

    God knows I need to know what type of V14GR4 I am ordering from the latest Chinese spammer.

  21. I get this frequently now, but only when I anonymize my queries (using TOR). I’ve never seen it on non-TOR requests.

  22. We had the same problem in South America this summer. We had our destination wedding there with about 15 guests. Nine times out of ten, we couldn’t access Google or it would ask for a SPAM code which got pretty annoying. I can totally understand your frustration!

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