Facebook Battles BrandTotal Over Data Scraping

Analytics company BrandTotal isn't entitled to a court order restoring its access to Facebook's site, the social networking company is telling a federal judge.

BrandTotal built its business “by harvesting data from Facebook, in violation of Facebook’s terms of service,” the social networking platform argues in papers filed Wednesday with U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero in the Northern District of California.

Facebook adds that this data harvesting “put the security and integrity of Facebook and its users at risk.”

The social networking platform makes the argument in response to BrandTotal's request for a restraining order that would require Facebook to stop blocking BrandTotal and its UpVoice browser extension.

The battle between the two companies dates to October 1, when Facebook alleged in a lawsuit that BrandTotal violated the social networking platform's terms of service, and ran afoul of a federal anti-hacking law, by scraping data from Facebook.



Facebook also took steps to ban BrandTotal's UpVoice browser extension -- which enabled the data collection -- from the platform, and demanded that Google remove UpVoice from the Chrome Web Store.

Late last week, BrandTotal struck back by requesting a court order requiring Facebook to lift the block, and to rescind the takedown notice sent to Google. BrandTotal argued that its users not only explicitly consented to download UpVoice, but were paid for doing so.

Facebook counters in its new papers that BrandTotal doesn't only receive data about people who have downloaded UpVoice, but from others in the household.

“Once defendants’ UpVoice extension had been installed, the extension automatically collected data, including non-public data, from password-protected locations when the user visited Facebook,” the company writes. “This creates a risk that whenever anyone using that browser -- including family members or roommates using a shared computer -- accesses Facebook (or another website defendants targeted for scraping) they would unwittingly have their data scraped as well.”

Spero is scheduled to consider the matter at a hearing on October 26.

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