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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Bots Scraping Data

Data scraping is not new.   Just much more convenient.  Was used to gather information about horse racing to leverage off track betting starting in the 18th century.   Just much more convenient these days.  When is data about some state of the world public?

Bots Are Scraping Your Data For Cash Amid Murky Laws And Ethics   by BJ Pangborn

LinkedIn says a startup that scrapes its user profiles is like a hacker. Resolving the issue may fall to the Supreme Court, but larger questions linger.

Is the data you share publicly on social networking sites like an announcement in a public place, where speech and information gathering are protected under the First Amendment? Or is it more like something uttered on private real estate, where the owner can prohibit trespassers as they wish?

That quandary recently emerged in a California courtroom, where two of the country’s most eminent constitutional lawyers squared off in a high-stakes battle between a data giant and a tiny startup.

For years, hiQ, a data mining company in San Francisco that helps employers predict which of their employees are thinking about jumping ship, built its business on the back of a valuable cache of data: public user profiles on the professional networking site LinkedIn.

Then in June, a year after Microsoft completed its $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn—backed by its own data analytics ambitions—the happy if unofficial relationship came to an abrupt end when the startup received a letter ordering it to immediately stop scraping LinkedIn profiles. Suddenly, hiQ’s entire business model was in jeopardy. The startup devoted to helping employers keep talent would itself begin to shed it: The three-year-old company said it lost 10 of its 24 employees since LinkedIn blocked access.   ... "

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