As technology has evolved, so has the amount of data businesses collect about their customers and competitors. While this can be beneficial to both companies and customers, it also raises concerns about privacy, copyright violations, and responsible data collection.
Responsible data collection is the practice of gathering and using data in an ethical and transparent way that respects data owners’ rights. It is becoming increasingly crucial for businesses to prioritize responsible data collection to avoid legal issues and reputation damage and build trust with their customers.
Let’s look closely at the factors that make responsible data collection essential for a business.
Legal Aspects of Responsible Data Collection
Data collection regulations are still evolving in this relatively new field. Each country has its own approach. Copyright protects all internet content, including blog posts and website code. Data owners and collectors often clash.
To avoid any legal issues with data scraping, you must be aware of the regulations in your operating countries. For example, in the European Union, it’s legal to scrape publicly available content under copyright to generate intelligence, — based on Directive 2019/790 of the European Parliament and of the Council on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market (DSM Directive).
This means you can collect your competitors’ data, but you cannot use it beyond analytical purposes.
Additionally, a company can prohibit data scraping of its public web platforms by providing machine-readable information about the ban on those platforms.
In the US, norms are being shaped by legislators and court rulings. Data collectors believe that Fair Use Index allows them to scrape publicly available information and transform it into new products, for instance, into price aggregating platforms. However, as the Craigslist vs. 3Taps case showed, publicly available data may be protected from web scraping by user agreement.
At the same time, very recently, the court battle between LinkedIn and hiQ Labs has proved that publicly available data is a legal target for web scraping despite the hopes of data owners that all information on their platforms, including texts, media, and databases, should be protected by Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
Ethical scraping implies obeying laws and may require legal counseling. Regulations may be complex and ever-changing but your business reputation and your company’s financial sustainability depends on them a lot.
Data Owner Trust and Loyalty
A responsible data collection pipeline takes time to set up properly but offers benefits, including building trust with data owners. Adhering to web scraping best practices shows respect for data owners, such as reviewing the robots.txt file, limiting scraping frequency, and avoiding personal or copyrighted data.
It creates a win-win situation. By scraping data for research, analysis, or innovation, you provide valuable insights benefiting both you and the data owner. For instance, web scraping helps compare prices, monitor trends, and improve the customer experience.
One approach to responsible data collection is to follow these two tips:
- Give credit. If you use the scraped data for public purposes, such as publishing a report or an article, you should always give credit to the original data source and link back to their website. This can help you avoid plagiarism and acknowledge the data owner’s contribution;
- Share feedback. If you find errors or inconsistencies in the scraped data, share your feedback with the data owner and help them improve their data quality. You can also share your insights or findings from the scraped data and show them how they can use it for their own benefit.
Purely Business Benefits
In addition to legal and ethical considerations, responsible data collection can also lead to better business outcomes. When companies responsibly collect data, they can better understand their customers’ needs and preferences. This can lead to more targeted marketing campaigns, personalized customer experiences, and higher profits.
For instance, a company that collects data about its customers’ purchasing habits can use that information to create targeted marketing campaigns that are more likely to resonate with those customers. This can lead to higher conversion rates, increased sales, and a better return on investment.
However, it is essential to note that responsible data collection is not just about collecting more data. In fact, collecting too much data can actually be counterproductive. When companies collect too much data, it can become overwhelming and difficult to manage, which may lead to financial losses. It can also be more challenging to ensure the data is used responsibly and ethically.
Instead, focus on collecting the correct data in the right way. Be transparent with data owners, collect only necessary data, and operate effectively. Prioritizing responsible data collection helps businesses stay competitive and maintain customer trust as technology advances and data becomes central to decision-making processes.
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