Amazon's AWS Investigating Perplexity AI for Violations

Amazon's AWS Investigating Perplexity AI for Violations

Natalia Vargas
3 min read

Amazon Cloud Division Investigates Perplexity AI Over Potential AWS Rules Violations

Amazon's cloud division is currently investigating Perplexity AI, an AI search startup backed by the Jeff Bezos family fund and Nvidia, over potential violations of Amazon Web Services (AWS) rules. The focus of this investigation is whether Perplexity is engaging in scraping content from websites that have explicitly prohibited such access through the Robots Exclusion Protocol. AWS mandates that customers adhere strictly to the robots.txt standard, which is a web standard indicating which pages automated bots should not access.

Perplexity, recently valued at $3 billion, has been accused of ignoring these protocols and scraping content from sites such as Forbes, The Guardian, and The New York Times. WIRED uncovered evidence that Perplexity accessed a server using an unpublished IP address to scrape content from Condé Nast properties, despite being blocked by a robots.txt file.

Initially, Perplexity CEO Aravind Srinivas dismissed WIRED's questions as a misunderstanding, but later admitted that a third-party company was involved in web crawling and indexing. He declined to disclose the company's name due to a nondisclosure agreement. Perplexity spokesperson Sara Platnick asserted that PerplexityBot, operating on AWS, adheres to robots.txt, but acknowledged that it overlooks the protocol when a user provides a specific URL.

Digital Content Next, a trade association representing major publishers, has expressed concerns that Perplexity may be violating principles aimed at preventing copyright violations in generative AI. CEO Jason Kint emphasized that AI companies should not presume they have the right to reuse publishers' content without permission. If Perplexity is indeed circumventing terms of service or robots.txt, it could indicate improper behavior.

Key Takeaways

  • Amazon Web Services investigates Perplexity AI for potential web scraping violations.
  • Perplexity AI, backed by Jeff Bezos family fund and Nvidia, valued at $3 billion.
  • AWS requires adherence to Robots Exclusion Protocol; terms of service prohibit illegal activities.
  • Perplexity AI accessed Condé Nast websites via an unpublished IP address, bypassing robots.txt.
  • Perplexity claims to respect robots.txt but admits to ignoring it for specific user prompts.


Amazon's scrutiny of Perplexity AI could lead to sanctions impacting AWS's reputation and Perplexity's operations. Financial backers like the Jeff Bezos family fund and Nvidia may encounter valuation risks. Publishers such as Forbes and The New York Times could face content misuse repercussions, potentially triggering legal actions. In the short term, Perplexity might face operational constraints; in the long term, stricter AI regulations could emerge. This incident underscores the tension between AI innovation and content ownership rights.

Did You Know?

  • Robots Exclusion Protocol (REP):
    • The Robots Exclusion Protocol is a standard that allows website owners to control how automated bots, like web crawlers, interact with their sites. By using a robots.txt file, website owners can specify which parts of their site should not be accessed by bots. This is crucial for maintaining site performance and protecting sensitive or non-public content.
  • Web Scraping and Its Ethical Implications:
    • Web scraping involves using bots to extract data from websites. While it is a common practice in data analysis and AI training, it must be done ethically and legally. Ethical considerations include respecting the robots.txt file and obtaining permission from website owners when necessary. Unauthorized scraping can lead to legal issues and damage to a company's reputation.
  • Generative AI and Copyright Concerns:
    • Generative AI, which creates content based on existing data, raises significant copyright concerns. AI companies must ensure they do not infringe on copyrights when using content from other sources. This includes respecting the terms of service of websites and obtaining proper permissions for using copyrighted material. Failure to do so can result in legal action and undermine the ethical use of AI technology.

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