Property sellers expect that, when they give an agent their listing information, it will be used to market and sell their property. While that means that agents need to give the listing information exposure on the Internet, it is the agent’s responsibility to take reasonable steps that the data is not ‘scraped’ off of their website and used for illicit purposes, such as direct-marketing the seller, display on unapproved places on the Internet, and other undesirable uses.
Realtors, this means ensuring that your website and software providers have taken steps to ensure that the data is not harvested by malicious software (“bots”). This is mandated by MLS rules for Virtual Office Websites (VOWs) but not yet for other displays. But now that IDX rules are changing to allow sold data, IDX should definitely be re-examined as well.
The scraping issue of yesterday vs. today
The ‘scraping’ issue was the center of attention in our industry a few years ago, when several MLSs went up against a nationwide data ‘scraper’ that foolishly re-posted the stolen data online where it could be found.