Document of the Day: In Defense of Data Scraping

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In a filing this month to the US Supreme Court, a raft of media organizations, including the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Associated Press, The Boston Globe, BuzzFeed, The Center for Investigative Reporting, Daily Beast, Dow Jones, VICE, and The Washington Post, argued that the interpretation of the country’s Computer Fraud and Abuse Act needs to be narrowed to avoid “serious constitutional concerns.”

In the document, which can be read in full here, the organizations say that an interpretation of the law by the court of appeals “chills ordinary journalistic activity protected by the First Amendment.”

It also claims that the law could negatively impact on web scraping, “an increasingly common data-journalism technique that relies on automation to pull large amounts of information from websites.”

“A looming threat of criminal liability would significantly deter the use of web-scraping techniques and deprive the public of the valuable information that can be gleaned from it,” the brief argues.

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