There has been some contention in the past over the legality of web scraping. The US courts of Appeal in late 2019, denied LinkedIn’s request to stop HiQ from scraping its data. The courts determined that scraping public data is legal.
As long as the data is available on the public domain and it is not copyright protected then it can be legally scraped. The data scraped should, however, be used within the confines of the law. Web scraped data has limitations in commercial applications.
As an illustration, a data scraper can scrape YouTube video titles for information. It is illegal to re-post that information on a website because it is copyrighted. Copyrights over information are enforceable regardless of the source.
Data scraping from a web source that requires authentication is also not legal. The authentication process is a security measure with terms and conditions that in most cases forbid automated data mining activities.
Public sites, however, do not have any authentication features and therefore do not have any terms and conditions that prevent data mining. This means that you can perform ethical web scraping for data use.
Why websites prevent data scraping?
Websites, nonetheless, have measures in place to hinder the practice of web scraping. Why? First, there are malicious internet users that spam websites with traffic in an activity that closely resembles the action of a web scraper.
There are data miners also that perform unethical data scraping activities that can swamp a website’s servers. Such activity will either take the website offline or considerably slow down browsing speeds. Some websites also restrict automated data mining due to stakes in data.
They will, therefore, enact security measures to hinder their competition from getting a hand on data for competitive business reasons. Web scraping tools, need proxy servers to bypass the scraping hindrances inbuilt on websites.
What is a proxy server?
A proxy server acts as a gateway between an internet-enabled device and the internet. The proxy separates the browsing activity from the end-user providing varying levels of online anonymity, security, and functionality.
When you have a proxy server in place, all website traffic to and from your computer will flow through the proxy server. The server, therefore, acts like a web filter and firewall and caches data from common requests to speed the internet experience.
Since all data passes through the proxy server, any computer with one will have a private online experience and will be better protected from malicious trackers and hackers.
The operations of a proxy server
Every internet-enabled gadget has an internet protocol (IP) address. The IP address is your device’s unique identifier. The identifier is a string of numbers that can be defined as the device’s street address.
Anyone looking at your computer’s IP address can access personal information such as your geographic location. They can also tell who your internet service provider is from your IP address. The IP address is designed to connect online gadgets and enable organized data sending.
5 things you should know about proxy location when data scraping
- The proxy server has its IP address. Since it stands as an intermediary between you and the internet, any web activity from and to your computer will only display the proxy server’s IP address. This factor is the reason why web scrapers require the use of high quality residential proxies.
The IP address of the proxy server will hide the activity of the scraper to guarantee an anonymous web scraping experience. The ability to hide an IP address is especially important when the data access is restricted to certain geo-locations.
- You can use proxies with IP addresses from various parts of the world to access geo-blocked Proxy server providers can provide Bangladesh proxies, to access data from areas in Asia that may not be accessible for users outside the continent.
- A proxy will prevent IP blocks or bans when web scraping by bypassing rate limit challenges. Poorly built web scraping tools are easily banned or blocked because they often send too many requests at a go. An enormous amount of traffic from one IP address is often a sure sign of web scraping.
The best web scraping tools use rotating pools of proxies. These tools can access a website via different IP addresses. Web scraping will, therefore, look just like any other human browsing activity.
- There are different types of proxies. Datacenter proxies are cheaper than residential proxies. Datacenter proxies are not the best proxies for data scraping because they do not have genuine IP addresses. Residential proxy sold by internet service providers offers better scraping functionality because they have valid IP addresses.
- Avoid cheap and free datacenter proxies when web scraping because most of them have either been blacklisted or banned from certain websites. They are also slow and could have data security challenges.
Web scraping automates the online data mining process. The practice has become a very popular activity amongst businesses that require constant streams of fresh data for various business needs. Businesses are now waking up to the benefits of data insights.
Do you need fresh data insights? Start web scraping with proxies today.