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Automate Boring Stuff: Get Python and your Web Browser to download your judgements

Automate Boring Stuff: Get Python and your Web Browser to download your judgements
This post is part of a series on my Data Science journey with PDPC Decisions. Check it out for more posts on visualisations, natural languge processing, data extraction and processing!

Update 13 June 2020: “At least until the PDPC breaks its website.” How prescient… about three months after I wrote this post, the structure of the PDPC’s website was drastically altered. The concepts and the ideas in this post haven’t changed, but the examples are outdated. This gives me a chance to rewrite this post. If I ever get round to it, I’ll provide a link.

Regular readers would already know that I try to run a github repository which tries to compile all personal data protection decisions in Singapore. Decisions are useful resources teeming with lots of information. They have statistics, insights into what factors are relevant in decision making and show that data protection is effective in Singapore. Even basic statistics about decisions make newspaper stories here locally. It would be great if there was a way to mine all that information!

houfu/pdpc-decisions
Data Protection Enforcement Cases in Singapore. Contribute to houfu/pdpc-decisions development by creating an account on GitHub.

Unfortunately, using the Personal Data Protection Commission in Singapore’s website to download judgements can be painful.

This is our target webpage today - Note the website has been transformed.

As you can see, you are only able to view no more than 5 decisions at one time. As the first decision dates back to 2016, you will have to go through several pages to grab everything! Actually just 23. I am sure you can do all that in 1 night, right? Right?

If you are not inclined to do it, then get your computer to do it. Using selenium, I wrote a python script to automate the whole process of finding all the decisions available on the website. What could have been a tedious night’s work was accomplished in 34 seconds.

Check out the script here.

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