The issue is growing in importance as tools to scrape screens for data are becoming more common and powerful, said Joanne Furtsch, policy and product architect at TRUSTe. Whereas much market data and research used to be collected by telephone, such data collection has been surpassed by online-based research, according to Furtsch.
Executives should also assess whether data being collected may be sensitive or personally identifiable information under state and national national laws, said Bowman. Companies should consider applying filters that can remove names from data.
Social networking sites and blogs should be sure to let consumers know, in their privacy policies and other areas, how the information they share on the site could be collected, said Furtsch. Such sites should also let potential screen scrapers know what information they’ll allow to be scraped. Some sites, such as Facebook, forbid any kind of automated data collecting, even if it’s by a user collecting data from his or her own account.