Sunday, December 09, 2018

Trojan Horses For Kids, Rampant Scraping

Authors are warned not to "scrape" social media sites for the email addresses of potential readers. Since the GDPR, (Europe's General Data Protection Regulation) we are admonished to double-verify that a person affirmatively and enthusiastically wishes to receive an author's newsletter.

There are also strict rules about authors' contests.  All wise authors considering a promotion to build up a mailing list, or to attract social media approbation ("Likes"), should read this article.

In nutshell, it might be illegal in your State, province or neck of the woods to run a "contest" where there is
1) a prize,
2) an element of chance in selecting the recipient of the prize,
3) a requirement that all contestants provide something of value to the contest organizer as a condition of entry.

This author has never yet seen another author sued for running an illegal sweepstakes where the prize is a free copy of an e-book, no skill is required to enter, and a chance to win the e-book is entirely conditional upon joining a Facebook group (or the like).

As for those Trojan Horses filled with geek warriors aiming to get the goods on little kids, PJ Media columnist Phil Baker shares some shocking data about forced scraping, dossiers, and data-mining.

Allegedly, all too many schools force K-12 children to use certain products that are deliberately contaminated with the vendor/developer's spyware. The children and their parents have no choice, either they accept the devices and the risk to their children's privacy, or they have to home school.

Also allegedly, school employees in Pennsylvania have been given permission to remotely access school computers that have been provided to children... when those computers are being used in the students' homes, without the knowledge or consent of the children or their parents.

Maybe every parent should stick an address label over the camera hole in their offspring's school-issued

Scraping children is especially bad, because many of the credit monitoring products are not available for youngsters.

Targeting advertising at little children is also, in this author's opinion, immoral because children's brains and powers of critical reasoning are not fully developed, and won't be until the children are about 26 years old.

What about businesses scraping other businesses' data? Is that theft or fair game?  Without addressing the rights of a minor public figure who might wish to have a presence on book-lovers social media site X, but not on advertising-heavy social media site Y (and yet Site Y might create a presence for the public figure without permission), there have been legal skirmishes between businesses fighting over each other's inventory of members and their basic data.

Legal blogger Scott L. Satkin, writing for the law firm Newmeyer and Dillion LLP  discusses what, if anything, counts as "unauthorized access" to "publicly available" data.

It is interesting to consider what, if any, rights a person or business that has collected "data" on members (or subscribers or users) might have over that data if that data is visible on the internet

Scott L Satkin and the lawsuits he discusses are about social media businesses and their subscribers. Authors seeking to build up a following might join a more successful author's social media group, and scrape the contact info and demographics of reader-members.

Scraping is rampant. Is it expected?

The authors of  this blog do not (to the best of this author's knowledge) collect or save or otherwise exploit any information about any readers or visitors. From time to time, we do warn visitors that our host (Blogger) does place tracking cookies on visitors' devices.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

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