Web Scraping – Search engines, such as Google, have long used so-called web crawlers or crawlers, which scan the Internet for user-defined terms. Crawlers are particular types of bots, which visit one web page after another to generate associations with search terms and categorize them. The first web crawler creates as early as 1993 when the first search engine introduces – Jumpstation.
These tracking techniques include web scraping or web harvesting. We explain how it works, what it is for, and how it can be blocked if necessary.
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Web Scraping: Definition
The web scraping (from the English scraping = scratching/scraping) extracts and stores data to analyze web pages or use them elsewhere. Through this web scraping, various types of information are stored: for example, contact information, such as email addresses or phone numbers, or also search terms or URLs. These store in local databases or tables.
How does Web Scraping Work?
There are different modes of operation within scraping, although there is generally a difference between automatic and manual scraping. The scraping manually defines the manual copying and pasting information and data, as one who cuts and keeps newspaper articles and only carried out if you want to find and store some specific information. It is a very laborious process that is rarely applied to large amounts of data.
In the case of automatic scraping, software or an algorithm analyzes different web pages to extract information. Specialized software is used depending on the type of web page and content. Within automatic scraping, there are several ways of proceeding:
- Parser: parsers (or parsers ) are used to convert text into a new structure. For example, in HTML parsing, the software reads an HTML document and stores the information. A DOM parser uses client-side content rendering in the browser to extract data.
- Bots: a bot is software dedicate to performing specific tasks and automating them. In the case of web harvesting, bots to browse web pages and collect data automatically.
- Text: Those with experience with the command line can use the Unix grep function to search the web for specific terms in Python or Perl. This is a straightforward method of extracting data, although it requires more work than using the software.
For what Purpose is Web Scraping Used?
In this way, employing data harvesting, a company can examine all the products of a competitor and compare them with its own. Web scraping is also valuable concerning financial data: it is possible to read data from an external website, organizing them in tabular form, and then analyze and process them.
Google is an excellent example of web scraping. The search engine uses this technology to display weather information or price comparisons for hotels and flights. Many of today’s price comparison portals also use scraping to represent information from different websites and providers.
Is Web Scraping Legal?
The scraping is not always legal. First of all, scrapers must take into account the intellectual property rights of websites. Web scraping has very negative consequences for some shopping online and suppliers, for example, if your page’s ranking is affecte because of aggregators. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a company to sue a comparison portal to prevent web scraping. In one of these cases, the Frankfurt Regional High Court ruled in 2009 that an airline should allow scraping by comparative outlets because, after all, your information is freely accessible. However, the airline had the possibility of resorting to technical measures to avoid it.
Therefore, the scraping is legal provided that the data collected are freely available to third parties on the web.
- Observe and comply with intellectual property rights. If these rights protect the data, it cannot be publishe anywhere else.
- The operators of the pages have the right to resort to technical processes to avoid web scraping that cannot be circumvente.
- If user registration or a contract of use require to benefit data, these data may by scraping.
- Hiding of advertising, terms and conditions, or disclaimers through scraping technologies are not allow.
Although scraping is allow in many cases, it can use for destructive or even illegal purposes. For example, this technology is often to send spam. For example, senders can take advantage of it to accumulate email addresses and send spam messages to these recipients.
How can web Scraping be Block?
To block scraping, website operators can take different measures. For example, the robots.txt file to block search engine bots. Therefore, the scraping machine is also prevent by bots of software. It is also possible to stop the IP addresses of bots.
In addition, numerous anti-bot payment service providers can establish a firewall.