European Data Protection Digest

Researcher "Scrapes" Online Profiles of 35M

ONLINE PRIVACY

May 27, 2011

A University of Amsterdam student has compiled names, addresses and biographical information from 35 million online profiles into a database in one month's time using one IP connection, reports The Register. Matthijs R. Koot collected the information as part of an online privacy research project to see "how easy it would be for private detectives, spear phishers and others" to mine the data stored in Google Profiles. Not hard, Koot said. A Google spokesman said he's looking into whether this "scraping" is a violation of the company's terms of service, adding, "The sitemap does not reveal any information that is not already designated to be public." The spokesman also noted that users can choose to make certain pieces of information private.
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