Even until today, some eyebrows still raise every time they hear the expression web scraping. Despite the active and increasing awareness and usage of the Internet in most, if not all, of the important activities of humans, not everybody is happy about the presence of online data collection.
There appears to be a never-ending debate regarding the legalities and existence of scraping online data. It continually poses as a threat to many individuals and companies who hold their information in great value due to the increasingly stiff competition in the global market. Despite the knowledge that nothing can be totally hidden from other online users’ view, a lot of people look at data mining as a curse rather than a blessing. The following are issues that bring about this distrust.
Criticism Hurled at Web Scraping
If there is a stronger word that some critics coin to refer to web scraping, nothing comes close to “stealing.” This opposition has become more intense because of the increasing profits some scrapers are making out of this activity. Since information is such a valuable commodity these days, this side of the issue about data mining has become controversial and at times unfair. The negative criticism is directed at the scrapers without looking at the recipients of the data that data miners collect. They have missed the point that the real beneficiaries of this service are the business companies and the global markets themselves.
Another negative accusation is that it is an intrusion of others’ privacy. Scraping is said to be venturing into private property or simply an act of “trespassing.” However, they must realize that once data is linked or posted online it is like exposing it to public access. This is the greatest risk that every online website owner or publisher must take.
To avoid such stealing and trespassing, the best way to safeguard one’s data is either to keep them offline or to make sure that they are protected and regularly updated when posted online.
Skepticism of its Benefits
With the negative criticism and lack of complete knowledge of the reality of the intention of the web scrapers, some individuals miss the full benefits of its effectiveness. If only some skeptics would open their minds and look at the positive side of web scraping, they would be reaping the complete benefits of accessing and using data from online sources.
Naturally, you cannot trust something if you are not sure of its veracity; and you will not be able to know the truth unless you investigate and verify or simply gain knowledge about the issue at hand. It has been said that “knowledge is power,” so it is very important that before you make judgments or take sides in an issue, you have to make sure that you have scrutinized every aspect of it. It is wise to have an open mind about recent developments in online marketing.
The moment you have exhausted all possible information about web scraping and weighed its benefits against its disadvantages, you will be able to know that it will actually bring more damage than good.
Obstacles Scrapers Face
Aside from the negative criticism, some scrapers are accused of taking advantage of other people’s ignorance and inability to safeguard their web contents. Sometimes the accusations can be correct; but most of the time, responsible web scrapers are aware of their rights and limitations that they do not actually steal but they either acknowledge the source or first seek permission from the owner. It cannot be denied that for every rule there is always an exception. It is true that some scrapers illegally use public and private information for their vested interests but this is not to be taken as conclusive.
Another obstacle is the inability to access information legally because they are not given permission by the sources. Others are prevented because of security codes and passwords that owners employ on their contents. This obstacle is to be expected so this gives every scraper a chance to look for other alternatives.
For as long as the scraper does all his or her scraping responsibly, legally and ethically, there is really no way of naming him or her as stealer or public enemy.
Challenges Data Mining Encounters
Data can be delicate and always changing. These are the two characteristics that make them so valuable that the whole cyber world is affected by its usage and exploitation. If online data and its collection can be a source of large profit as some are assumed to be making, it is also equally difficult to keep and acquire. As a matter of fact, success in business is also closely associated with web scraping.
On the other hand, no one can literally claim sole ownership about online data nowadays because nothing can be absolutely private. In one time or another, some information has been added and incorporated to one’s database such that there is no longer anything called “original.” With this in mind, some scrapers can be accused of stealing or plagiarism unjustly.
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