I like further education, I love MOOGs! For my work, I had to refresh some skills and wanted to watch a couple of my purchased courses on Udemy. Their homepage was inaccessible to me. Instead I was greeted by: Please verify you are a human.

After 15 minutes trying to solve the ReCaptcha while also trying to adjust my Firefox' strict privacy settings regarding 3rd-party cookies, tracking, scripts et all, I eventually gave up.

Not enough, I spent another 15 minutes, now with Chromium, to create a ticket in Udemy's Zendesk. Guess what, it was also "protected" against humans by ReCaptcha. Needless to say that I had to solve it a couple of times, the ReCaptcha even expired three times! But hey, at least I was able to access Udemy's homepage with Chromium and open a ticket, eventually.

I am really pissed. As soon as you care about your privacy and try to reduce your digital footprint by using privacy enhancing settings, tools like uBlock Origin, uMatrix, or add-ins to purge cookies regularly - and, how dare you, maybe even Tor, which I didn't use right now - you are subject to arbitrary scrutiny and handed over to Google's ReCaptcha which is getting worse with every day that passes.

Udemy uses bot detection and bot protection by PerimeterX which was "named to AI 100 List of Most Innovative AI Startups" (VentureBeat). This company "secured $43M to protect web apps from bot attacks" (TechCrunch). $43M for blocking a human from accessing his Udemy courses. AI, my ass.

Jan Beilicke

About the author

Long-time IT professional and full-time nerd. Open source enthusiast, advocating security and privacy. Sees the cloud as other people's computers. Find me on Mastodon or Twitter.