The Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) has issued a stern warning against the practice of scraping, emphasizing that it is almost always illegal for private parties and individuals. Scraping, which involves the automatic collection and storage of information from the internet, poses significant privacy risks and often violates data protection regulations.


    The Risks of Scraping:

    • Scraping typically involves the indiscriminate collection of personal data, including sensitive information, from various online sources such as social media platforms.
    • This mass gathering of personal data raises serious privacy concerns, as it can encompass intimate details of individuals’ lives and activities.
    • Scraping may lead to GDPR violations, especially when it involves creating profiles of individuals for commercial purposes or scraping data from protected social media accounts.

    Misconceptions and Legal Restrictions:

    • Contrary to popular belief, the mere availability of information on the internet does not imply consent for scraping. Posting information on social media does not equate to granting permission for automated data collection.
    • Private organizations and individuals can only engage in scraping if they have a legitimate interest and meet strict conditions. Scraping for profit-making purposes is generally prohibited.
    • Exceptions to the rule are rare and usually limited to domestic use or targeted scraping for specific purposes, such as monitoring news related to a company’s activities.

    Guidelines and Government Scrutiny:

    • The AP’s guidance underscores the need for adherence to data protection laws and emphasizes that scraping by the government is also subject to strict regulations.
    • The authority is developing guidelines specifically addressing scraping by governmental entities to mitigate privacy risks and ensure compliance with legal standards.


    As the internet increasingly becomes a repository of personal information, it is imperative to recognize the legal and ethical boundaries surrounding data scraping. The AP’s guidance serves as a reminder of the importance of respecting individuals’ privacy rights and adhering to data protection regulations in the digital age.


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