Unauthorized use of data from facebook

Sir, I am scraping facebook data from public pages of facebook. I have neither written permissions or emails from the owners of the page that I can use their content. Can I use their content for my app and make money out of it? Is it legal?

Asked on September 11, 2016 in illegal.
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According to the given circumstances, scraping of data is illegal as Personal Data Protection laws and Copyright Act 1957 does not allow any person to copy anyone's personal data and make earning from the same or for the benefit of the same person. Scrapping of personal data without the permission of the owner of the same person is not right and no person can use it for his/her own benefit.

This also breaches the owners right to life under Article 21 Of the Constitution of India as this article provides right to personal life. And exploiting the same by means of other person using it for his own benefit is not in conformity with the laws of the land and is not entertained by the courts.

Answered on September 16, 2016.
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Dear sir/madam,

I understand your point and totally agree to it, when you say that you have written permissions or emails from the owners of the page. One would presume that taking permission from the owners, to use the contents related to their own personal life should obviously be legal. This is what happens normally, up until there is a specific disclaimer provided by the interface on which such content has been put up on. This is a matter of Intellectual Property Rights and this has what has happened in your situation. Excerpts of which i have quoted below that would make the idea perfectly clear in your regard.

"For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).”[1]

“Federal law does not allow private parties to obtain account contents (ex: messages, Timeline posts, photos) using subpoenas. See the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq.”[2]

The law supporting abovementioned statement is produced down below as it is :


§ 2701 – Unlawful access to stored communications[3]

(a)Offense.—Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section whoever—

  1. intentionally accesses without authorization a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided; or
  2. intentionally exceeds an authorization to access that facility;

and thereby obtains, alters, or prevents authorized access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in electronic storage in such system shall be punished as provided in subsection (b) of this section.

(b)Punishment.—The punishment for an offense under subsection (a) of this section is—

(1)if the offense is committed for purposes of commercial advantage, malicious destruction or damage, or private commercial gain, or in furtherance of any criminal or tortious act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or any State—

(A) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or both, in the case of a first offense under this subparagraph; and

(B) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, for any subsequent offense under this subparagraph; and

(2)in any other case—

(A) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 1 year or both, in the case of a first offense under this paragraph; and

(B) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or both, in the case of an offense under this subparagraph that occurs after a conviction of another offense under this section.


I have produced the whole ambit of the law alongwith the word to word language in the “Data use Policy” of Facebook because the question did not contain all the facts needed to explain about the actual girth of the problem. Therefore, looking at the entire provision you  could judge your current position in developing the app. Also, according to the terms and conditions mentioned in the facebook website, your idea seems a pretty illegal one.


[1] https://www.facebook.com/terms

[2] https://www.facebook.com/help/133221086752707?helpref=uf_permalink

[3] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2701

Answered on October 7, 2016.
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