X Corp., the company formerly known as Twitter, recently sued Bright Data over its site scraping activities. Bright Data is a data collection company and advertises—among other services—its “website scraping” solutions. Scraping is not new, nor are lawsuits attempting to stop the activity. We may, though, see a rise in these suits with the rise in companies using them in conjunction with generative AI tools.
This case -and the counts X is alleging- serves as a reminder of the concerns that platforms have about scraping practices. In particular, social media sites that allow users to post personal information. (Indeed, in January Meta filed a similar suit against a different data collection platform). Namely, X has argued:
- Breach of contract: X’s terms of service, like those of most platforms, prohibits scraping (“scraping the Services without our prior consent is expressly prohibited”). X argues that by scraping usernames, tweets, and even more granular data about users, Bright Data violated that online contract with X.
- Tortious interference with contract: Bright Data, in addition to scraping itself, also sells scraping tools. Third parties can use these tools to scrape the data on their own. X argues that by providing these tools, Bright Data is helping others violate X’s contracts with those third parties.
- Unjust enrichment: Finally, X argues that Bright Data’s receipt of financial benefits (selling the data obtained from scraping) constitutes unjust enrichment.
In addition to a preliminary and permanent injunction, X is also asking that Bright Data identify all recipients of information scraped from the X platform.
Putting It into Practice: With the rise of artificial intelligence and other passive information collection activities, this case is a reminder to those considering using information gathering tools. If using online information gathering tools, do diligence to understand how the information has been gathered.