First Inklings of a Small Contract Market Around Data Services? And a concern…

A few days ago I was tipped off to a “bounty” request on Scraperwiki, offering 50 quid for a scrape of the DVLA test centres. The request had been posted on the Scraperwiki, and a bounty offered (on which Scraperwiki seems to add a commission).

Scraperwiki also appears to be offering a “private scraper” service as a business model. Maybe visualisation design around a wiki will be next to be offered on the market?!

Another hint that folk may be willing to pay to get data into a useable form appeared on GetTheData in a request for information about currency data from a professional, non-coder journalist that suggested a payment may be in the offing for anyone who could help.

Given that a lot of data that is apparently out there, is readily scrapeable, but is actually subject to non-commercial, personal use only end user licences, I do wonder if there will be a black market in unlicensed data that gets laundered through a series of steps that don’t respect attribution, let alone other, more stringent license conditions.

On the other hand, I wonder whether or not GetTheData should have a facility for associating a bounty with a particular query?

And the concern? It’s to do with the ethics of scraping or aggregating large amounts of personal – albeit public – data from folk on social networks. For example, it’s easy enough to find out who’s being wished a happy birthday on Twitter, and I have more than a few tools for grabbing friends and follower lists around hashtags, search terms, Twitter lists and usernames, and so on. Once we start mining data, it may be possible to discover things about folk from the public context they inhabit that maybe reveals something about them they didn’t realise could be deduced from the context? So what should our response be if we get a request on GetTheData asking someone how to mine public social data around a named individual… It may not be phone tapping, but something about that sort of request, should it ever occur, wouldn’t feel quite right to me…?

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

One thought on “First Inklings of a Small Contract Market Around Data Services? And a concern…”

  1. It’s an interesting point. If someone produces a customised bundle of information for someone else, for money and the information is drawn from multiple sources, all with differing license restrictions, is it legally up to the creator of the (scraped) bundle to have a “duty of care” with regards to the bundle/bundle consumer/licensing laws?
    When you buy a car from a dealer, you’re in effect asking the dealer to “scrape” info on new/used cars from which you can make a decision. However, before the dealer will hand over the car, they have to see proof of insurance of the car. When I asked about this, the chap said something along the lines of “law” and “duty of care”.
    In dealerland, it used to be a case of “not my problem”. Not any more.

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