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Gate Up, Gate Down as court rules on data scraping

And two more pieces of legalese to care about.

A U.S. Appeals court has ruled that scraping publicly accessible data is legal.   This is a long-lasting battle brought by LinkedIn against another company scraping public profiles.     The case originally reached the Supreme Court but was sent back to the Ninth Circuit for review.

In its second ruling on Monday, the Ninth Circuit reaffirmed its original decision and found that scraping data that is publicly accessible on the internet is not a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or CFAA, which governs what constitutes computer hacking under U.S. law.

Of note – a “gate-up, gate-down” analogy. The Supreme Court said that when a computer or website’s gates are up, information is publicly accessible, and no authorization is required.

That analogy may be important – Representative Ted Lieu is introducing the Warrant for Metadata act, which would require agencies to get court approval to access metadata from cloud-service providers.  This is from the Washington Post.     While there are limits on how the government can track a person’s location, metadata can render those protections irrelevant.  

Why do we care?

I’ve talked about warrants before – protecting metadata seems savvy to me.    Data privacy is getting both potential laws and legal precedent… slowly but surely.   

The analogy I found interesting is the intention of the data viewed as in a front or behind a gate.     Keep that one in mind.