Science does a lot of good. When’s the last time you met someone with polio? But sometimes scientists can go too far in their quest for knowledge. With blinders on to anything but their end goals, they can accidentally do something that seems unequivocally messed up to folks who didn’t dedicate their entire lives to very specific studies. Case in point: researchers recently dumped personal data from over 70,000 OkCupid profiles onto the internet.
Emil Kirkegaard and Julius Daugbjerg Bjerrekær scraped OkCupid profiles and then uploaded all that data into an open-source database. While the data is indeed publicly available, Kirkegaard may be facing legal trouble for sharing users’ answers to OkCupid questionnaires alongside identifying information like username and location, all without the consent of the site or the users.
An OkCupid spokesperson told Vox that the data dump was “a clear violation of our terms of service — and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act” before adding that the site is “exploring legal options.”
And there are plenty of third parties who are just as peeved about Kirkegaard’s scrape. Aarhus University – where Kirkegaard is currently a student – has stressed that he wasn’t working for them when he mined the dating site.
“His actions are entirely his own responsibility,” they wrote on Twitter. “If [the university’s] name has been misused, we will take action.”
For all that, Kirkegaard doesn’t seem like he’ll apologize. He’s been very flippant about the controversy his data dump caused, stating that “public [information] is public.”