Sunday, October 20, 2019

Scrape Off !

My landline telephone number was misappropriated by scammers. I'm not sure if one would call that scraping, because they could have used a local telephone directory.

The first I know of it was an early morning call from a gentleman who sounded suspiciously thrilled to be "returning" (my) "call". He seemed to think that I might be coming to Idaho. Goodness knows what he imagined I would do for him when I got there!   Then, there was a man returning my call (or not), who was under the impression that I wanted to buy a car from him. By the time I received a midnight call from a distraught woman in Canada who thought I was a hospital with horrific tidings for her, I had figured out that my Do-Not-Call-Registry-listed number had been spoofed.

What one should do is calmly and kindly tell such callers that one's number has been spoofed; that one is very sorry for their inconvenience and distress; that they can call the FCC at 1-888-225-5322 for further information. What I did, not having the FCC number to hand, was tell them the good news that if they had answered "my" call in real time, they would have spoken with a scammer.

I have since received a call from Australia, repeated calls from someone's infantile grandchildren, an eager call back from a realtor in Louisiana who thought I wanted to rent a property, and a couple of calls from a site that is silent for a while, then thanks me for calling them. I'd probably pay phone sex rates if I stayed on the line out of curiosity. for one site selling phone number information  is highly unreliable. I looked up my phone number, and to my astonishment, discovered that I live in California. So much for Artificial Intelligence!

Apparently, it may not be illegal to sell inaccurate information.  It is also, not Computer Fraud And Abuse to "scrape" information from social media sites and sell on that information for commercial profit.

Karl Bode, writing for  recently discussed the lawsuit by LinkedIn against HiQ for "scraping" information that LinkedIn users posted on LinkedIn about themselves, and selling the information to others.

However, the problem may have been that LinkedIn did not have rights to the information that HiQ scraped. The LinkedIn users might have rights that have not been asserted, such as their own copyright over the information they wrote for their profiles, or privacy rights.

The details are well explained by Michael A. Jacobs and  J. Alexander Lawrence on the Morrison Foerster law blog:

As Rob Nussbaum points out for Saiber, on the Trending Law blog, social media site users should be aware that what they post on public sites can be scraped up and monetized by others.

Beware what you post that others can scrape.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry 

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