I am a developer and I work for a start up. My boss assigned me a task of checking two career-related networking sites. I need to programmatically visit these sites, and check whether they have a link for each entity in our database or not. If yes, I need to save their link to our database. The task description he wrote contained some strange wording that raised my suspicion. I learned that the companies in question not only did not give their consent to be queried, but also they already turned our approach down. I am within my probationary period, generally I liked the job. I had some interesting and completely OK tasks in the recent months only this last assignment seems to be fishy. I am not a lawyer. I work and live in a foreign country and I have limited knowledge of the language. It would be extremely hard for me to research whether it is legally OK, or not. We -as a company- have no legal department (As a matter of fact I never worked for any company that had one.). What I do have is a general bad feeling. I believe in business relationships based on mutual consent (and mutual benefit) and the lack thereof compromises my moral compass and grossly reduces my enthusiasm.
The bottom line: I do not want to do anything that may later fall back on me. Nor do I want to act unethically. How can I handle this situation?
So you're just scraping third-party sites? Is the scraped data just used internally, or is it incorporated into one of your products? Is the data private/behind a login screen?
Yes, the scraped data will be incorporated into our product, and will be visible online.
Is the data private/behind a login screen? I think available without logging in, but I am not sure.
Update: I just had a conversation with my boss, and I politely refused the task. We agreed that I leave the company.