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IV. Larger Considerations > 31. Keeping Webbots out of Trouble

Chapter 31. Keeping Webbots out of Trouble

By this point, you know how to access, download, parse, and process nearly any of the 386 million websites on the Internet.[88] Knowing how to do something, however, does not give you the right to do it. While I have cast warnings throughout the book, I haven’t, until now, focused on the consequences of designing webbots or spiders that act selfishly and without regard to the rights of website owners or related infrastructure.[89]

Since many businesses rely on the performance of their websites to conduct business, you should consider interfering with a corporate website equivalent to interfering with a physical store or factory. When deploying a webbot or spider, remember that someone else is paying for hosting, bandwidth, and development for the websites you target. Writing webbots and spiders that consume irresponsible amounts of bandwidth, guess passwords, or capriciously reuse intellectual property may well be a violation of someone’s rights and will eventually land you in trouble. Back in the day—that is, before the popularization of the Internet—programmers had to win their stripes before they earned the confidence of their peers and gained access to networks or sensitive information. At that time, people who had access to data networks were less likely to abuse them because they had an ownership stake in the security of data and the performance of networks. One of the outcomes of the Internet’s free access to information, open infrastructure, and apparent anonymous browsing is that it is now easier than ever to act irresponsibly. A free Wi-Fi connection to the Internet gives anyone and everyone access t....


  

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