A joint statement released by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) and 11 other international data protection authorities, including the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), addresses the increasing prevalence of data scraping on social media platforms and other publicly accessible sites. The statement highlights the shared concerns of the regulators over the collection and processing of vast amounts of personal information from the internet, which can be exploited for various purposes, including monetisation through reselling data to third-party websites, private analysis or intelligence gathering, and even malicious activities.
To address this issue, the OAIC and its colleagues emphasise that publicly accessible personal information is still subject to data protection and privacy laws. As such, social media companies and website operators have obligations to protect personal information on their platforms from unlawful data scraping. Mass data scraping incidents that harvest personal information can constitute reportable data breaches in many jurisdictions.
Individuals can also take steps to protect their personal information from data scraping, and social media companies have a role to play in enabling users to engage with their services in a privacy-protective manner. The OAIC and its international colleagues look forward to hearing from social media companies about their current compliance or intentions to comply with the principles outlined in the joint statement.
In a related post, The Markup offers insight into how to legally scrape EU data for investigations.
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