Web Scraping; It’s Legal or Illegal

Question of Legality

In this blog, I’ll talk about Web scraping & its legality..?

So, let’s start; Nowadays, the world moving towards data revolution, in other words, to conduct a seminar, start a business, or making predictions towards anything, our basic requirement is meaningful data. So data is all over on the web, how to get it, or scrape it.

What is Web scraping..?

It’s a process of copying specific data from the web and also known as Web Data Extraction & Web Harvesting.

Web Crawler:- It’s an automated type of web scraping in which we fetch details from the web pages for later processing.

Let’s talk about Legality

Web scraping is not illegal. But it’s the process you used to scrape & what you scrape that comes under the grey area or the question of Legality.

What is the grey area..?

It is the area where predictability is uncertain & depends on the course of action taken & no one spent more time researching further to see the black & white.

Grey Area

The practice that makes Web Scraping Legal:-

1. Never be a liability

a) Limit your requests to a webpage from a single IP address.

b) Try not to scrape on peak-hours.

2. Check the robots.txt

No one; literally no one wants their data to be used by any other without permission. So to avoid these circumstances, the owner of the website gives information in the form “robots.txt”.

Before scrapping a website, always check the robots.txt file first (usually available at the extension of a website — www.example.com/robots.txt). This document describes what a crawler should or shouldn’t crawl according to the Robots Exclusion Standard.

The robots file explains the white & black area of the website, what is allowed not allowed, limits of requests, or crawling.

Sample of robots.txt

3. Don’t violate the Data Protection Policy

Never violate the Data Protection Policy else it will cost you sometimes.

4. Don’t hide yourself

If you are automating the scrapping process then, it’s better to show yourself by putting your contact details in the crawler’s header. So you don’t get blocked.

5. Aware of terms & Conditions

Before scrapping please go through the website Terms & Conditions & follow them.

What will happen when someone ignores this process..?

In that case, the owner of the website blocks that IP address temporarily. Again the user still ignores it tries to continue his activity then he would be blocked permanently or get sued.

If you have any questions about the code or web scraping in general, reach out to me on

https://www.linkedin.com/in/gyan-vardhan/

Data Scientist at Private Organization