Responsible Data Scraping: From Principles To Practice
Estimated Reading Time 9 min
AIMLEAP Automation Works Startups | Digital | Innovation| Transformation
Over the past few years, data has garnered a good reputation. It is a new age digital gold that can be analyzed, integrated, and unified across platforms. Data is everywhere, and its volume is expanding quickly.
90% of the world’s data has just been produced in the previous two years.
Every sector of society is being affected by the pace of data generation.
Today, there is a huge volume of untouched data that is yet to be extracted. Businesses, researchers, analysts, marketers, and influencers, anyone can extract and leverage data for different purposes. Today, thousands of data extraction tools are available to help users with their scalable data scraping needs. With the growth of data, the data extraction market is also growing swiftly.
From 2020 to 2027, the global data extraction market is expected to increase at a CAGR of 11.8%, from $2.14 billion in 2019 to $4.90 billion in 2027.
Data can be extracted both automatically and manually. Manual data collection is obviously full of errors and time taking. Advanced data extraction tools are said to be the most reliable source of collecting relevant data from web sources in high quality and large quantities with super fast speed. Users can scrape the data either using a pre-built website scraper or get a custom tool coded according to their requirements.
Automated Data Collection to Scrape the Data by Data Scrapers
The process of importing information from a website into a spreadsheet or a local file saved on your computer using web scraping tools is known as data scraping, also known as web scraping. It’s one of the most efficient methods for collecting information from the web and, in some situations, sending that information to another website.
A website scraper, pre-built or custom built can be used for data scraping from websites that belong to different genres. Anyone who wants to enrich their database with accurate, duplicate-free data must choose the right data scraping technology. Data as a service is a distribution model that is also chosen by users since it effectively makes data files (including text, photos, sounds, and videos) accessible to users across a network, usually the Internet. It doesn’t matter how you collect data; just be responsible and do not negatively affect a site or platform.
Principles Of Responsible Data Collection
While a lot of information available is indeed public, some of the information might be copyrighted or even private. Although data scraping is not officially considered unlawful, its purpose can be investigated. Data collection for mass mailing, reaching out confidential data, robocalling, and malevolent social engineering are examples of how the technique has been misused.
Too many businesses were perceived as exploiting data unethically when they used technology to obtain vast amounts of web data. The public reaction has been largely unfavorable due to a lack of transparency regarding the intended purpose for which data has been gathered in the first place.
In fact, in 2020, Facebook filed a lawsuit in the United States against two businesses for using its platforms to scrape data as part of a global data harvesting operation.
So, one has to be very cautious and responsible while scraping data. Let us see what are the principles that we should follow while looking to scrape the data:
1. Respect The Copyright
The term “copyright” describes the exclusive legal ownership of physical work, such as content, story, image, design, or video. It essentially means that if you produce something, you own it. The work must be original and tangible in order to be called copyright.
Since the work is original the data becomes very relevant to scrape, but the rights for the use and distribution of copyrighted data are limited. Researchers can find patterns, trends, and other important information through the computerized analysis of massive volumes of copyright works that cannot be found by regular “human” reading.
Before you scrape the data which is copyrighted, make sure to seek the consent of the owner. Respect their terms and conditions like using citations and giving references whenever you use any copyrighted data for fair use. Criticism/parody, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research are all examples of fair use.
Use legal web scraping tools to extract copyrighted data from the internet in an ethical way. Please note that, here I am not discussing law but rather ethics.
2. Follow Terms & Conditions
When you log in and/or explicitly agree to the terms and conditions of a website, you are entering into a contract with the website owner and agreeing to their web scraping rules. Which can expressly indicate that scraping any data from the website is prohibited.
This means that if your spiders need to log in to scrape data, you should carefully study the terms and conditions you’re consenting to, as they may state that you’re not authorized to scrape the data. The best practice is to follow the terms and conditions and honor its sanctity.
If you don’t follow the Terms and Conditions levied by the owner to prohibit data scraping from their website, you might get into a problem. So make sure to follow T&C before scraping a website. Apart from scraping websites using a website scraper, you can go for a public API to get the type of data you have been looking for and avoid scraping everything together.
3. Respect The Laws
Web scraping is a method of extracting data from the internet using advanced web scraping tools. Businesses have historically collected online data in a relatively casual manner. However, with the implementation of GDPR legislation, careful consideration of data extraction is required.
For EU citizens, the introduction of GDPR has changed the way the data is used. Personal data of EU citizens can not be scraped unless you have any lawful reason. Be aware of similar laws in different parts of the globe to stay clean.
Poland recently fined a company Euro 220,000 for gathering data on almost 7 million people without informing them (informing individuals is a rule under Article 14 of GDPR).
So be GDPR compliant when you scrape the data that is personal. However every country has its own set of rules, so make sure to scrape data as per your country’s laws and rules.
It is acceptable to process peoples’ data if they have permitted you to do so. Contracts with the concerned persons can have a legal basis under GDPR if you are required to treat their data as a condition of the contract.
4. Don’t Overdo It
Websites do not want to be scraped and that is why they employ anti-scraping measures to stop bots and crawlers from collecting their data. Banning IP is the easiest and most popular anti-scraping method. The server will initially display the sites to you, but after some time it will block the IP because of excessive traffic from that IP. Your website scraper will therefore be useless.
Furthermore, using a real browser to visit the website will be impossible. So, whenever you put a large number of scripts or bots on a website, it tends to affect the performance of the website adversely. Despite your best efforts, every request leaves a trail in your code. You have no control over some aspects of networking.
The best practice would be to limit the number of requests on the same website from a single IP address. Hundreds of proxies can be used to change your IP and avoid IP blockages. You can also use a data scraper that auto-rotates IP addresses while data scraping from websites.
5. Use a legal data scraper
The use of online scraped data raises moral dilemmas around permission, anonymity, trust, and transparency in research. Information that is sensitive to an organization or an individual can be exposed and that is why websites are concerned.
A legal website scraper could be used to extract more than the approved volume of data and use it. The techniques employed to collect and store the data should be legally compliant.
Ethical scrapers are allowed by the websites to access their data as long as they do not burden on site’s performance. Data scrapers are the reality of the open web. Consider them for data collection that is fast, accurate, and of course, ethical.
Top 5 Most Scraped Websites In The World Currently
Businesses, marketers, researchers, and analysts from all over the world scrape the data available on the internet for diverse purposes.
Since 2010, there have been 5000% more data exchanges.
Over the years, web data scraping has increased drastically.
From eCommerce to social media, Millions of different types of websites are being scraped by people. They make use of advanced web scraping tools to extract high-quality data from web sources. It is frequently used by businesses, freelancers, analysts, and researchers because it helps capture web data properly and effectively on a worldwide scale as money moves around the world via the Internet. Here are the top 5 companies that are scraped by humans all over the world.
Amazon is the most popular eCommerce store that accounts for nearly 40% of eCommerce sales in 2022.
So, it is not surprising that Amazon ranks 1st on our list. With a giant share in the eCommerce industry, Amazon is the first choice of businesses, eCommerce researchers, and market analysts for data collection. When users scrape the data from Amazon, they face challenges since Amazon doesn’t allow bots to collect its data. So, users choose advanced web scraping tools that scrape Amazon data quite efficiently, evading all the anti-scraping measures.
Undoubtedly one of the most well-known companies in the world, Walmart is a real household name.
The business operates outlets in 24 different nations.
The international company operates discount shops, superstores, and hypermarkets. Walmart is a crucial source of data for obtaining product information for market research for both retailers and groceries. It holds a lot of data like images, seller information, photos, brands, variants, the ID of the product, and many more. People collect the data from Walmart for price comparison, market research, consumer sentiment analysis, and more.
One of the oldest online stores eBay has connected over 154 million customers and 19 million merchants worldwide since its launch in 1995.
This number translates into a lot of data like product descriptions, prices, images, videos, locations, merchant profiles, product availability, discounts, and brand presence. Retail business owners from all over the world scrape the data from eBay to get insights on trending products, best-selling items, competitors’ business, etc.
Google is not a person but it still knows you better than your family and friends. It has all the information about its users that span all over the world. So, from an individual and a business perspective, one can get any information one needs from Google with scraping. SEO marketers are the ones extracting a large volume of data from Google. They make use of web scraping tools to extract data from Google in big quantities for SEO purpose.
Yelp is just like Yellowpages.com which is a renowned business listing platform. From yelp, one can extract property data based on location. Yelp offers free advice to customers searching for a decent massage, home services, or food in addition to acting as a business directory. Maybe that is why its data is extracted by users. Rankings and reviews are valuable information for businesses. Those that scrape Yelp make use of the rankings and reviews to analyze their competitors, as well as to gain a sense of how their business appears to customers.
By 2023, the big data analytics industry is anticipated to grow to $103 billion.
With the increasing requirement of data, the industry is booming. The increase in data requirements brings opportunities for data extraction service providers and software.
Data scraping from websites is easy if you make use of the right web scraping tools and remain ethical. Responsibly scrape the data from major sites, and you are not going to face challenges that are very common in data collection.
Even scraping for commercial purposes may, in my opinion, be done fairly ethically. For those of us who rely on the massive amounts of data on the web to innovate, learn, and create new value, large volume web scraping for dubious commercial purposes is what attracts the most attention and offers the most risk. We can maintain a positive situation with a bit of respect.
If you seek an ethical website scraper to extract data from sites responsibly, then you can go for APISCRAPY. The company offers a wide range of data scrapers that make data collection a breeze. APISCRAPY even offers AI-powered data extraction tools for risk-free web data collection.
AIMLEAP Automation Practice
APISCRAPY is a scalable data scraping (web & app) and automation platform that converts any data into ready-to-use data API. The platform is capable to extract data from websites, process data, automate workflows and integrate ready to consume data into database or deliver data in any desired format. APISCRAPY practice provides capabilities that help create highly personalized digital experiences, products and services. Our RPA solutions help customers with insights from data for decision-making, improve operations efficiencies and reduce costs. To learn more, visit us www.apiscrapy.com
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