2 Replies - 15976 Views - Last Post: 29 June 2011 - 04:59 AM

#1 codeprada   User is offline

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With Knowledge Comes Power & More Options

Posted 27 June 2011 - 01:15 PM

The internet makes information accessible via numerous means and methods. Getting publicly available information in the format you may want it may not be possible unless you utilize some unorthodox methods.

Just a few days ago I had to compile a huge list of names and I was searching the internet for such a list. Turns out it's a lot harder to find than I thought. I did however find a name generator which returns a list of names upon each button click. The list of names weren't well formatted which made it hard to copy and paste what you really wanted. I searched some more until I ran into a name generator that was a lot better and well formatted. It however returned one name at a time. I could have copied and paste 500 names but I decided to do it a bit different.

A simple right then left click revealed the page's source where I saw the names were retrieved from a script using Ajax. My first thought was cURL, which could automate this process for me. After 5 minutes I was able to generate a list of over 500 names each separated into two files according to gender.

The only difference the automated task had from doing it manually was it was faster. With that said is gaining information like this unethical or illegal since no parties were technically harmed?

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Replies To: With Knowledge Comes Power & More Options

#2 Curtis Rutland   User is offline

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Re: With Knowledge Comes Power & More Options

Posted 28 June 2011 - 08:47 AM

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With that said is gaining information like this unethical or illegal since no parties were technically harmed?


I don't see how. They exposed an endpoint, and you used it. You used it more quickly than they might have expected, but there was no agreement, no EULA, no nothing. They hung an endpoint out there and you used it. End of story.
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#3 n8schatten   User is offline

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Re: With Knowledge Comes Power & More Options

Posted 29 June 2011 - 04:59 AM

A few years ago I would have said that you misused the provided service despite the missing agreement or EULA. The creators of that service sure had their reasons to only show one name at a time. Most probably they intended the service for usage by (slow) humans and thus estimated a rather low levels of traffic. By using a script that requests data much faster than humans, you could have exceeded their limits and eventually lead to the service going offline.
Nonetheless, we're in 2011 and there is no reason to not have unlimited traffic with any hosted webspace or server. Thus, I completely agree with Curtis Rutland. There was no agreement or EULA and most probably not even a hint stating to not use the service with a script or application.
On the aspect of retrieving information the way you do: I don't see how it could be unethical. All you do is to speed up things. From my point of view there that makes no difference. You would have gotten the information one way (the slower one) or the other (the faster one). They provide it, you use it, everyone is happy.
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