ODPA joins international efforts to prevent unlawful data scraping

Published: 25 March 2024

The Bailiwick’s Data Protection Commissioner, Brent Homan, will be chairing a panel discussing international enforcement efforts to curb unlawful data scraping at the IAPP Global Privacy Summit in Washington DC in April 2024.

The Office of the Data Protection Authority (ODPA) is a recent signatory to a Joint Statement on data scraping and the protection of privacy, issued in August 2023. Endorsed by 14 international data protection authorities, this statement outlines:
  • Key privacy risks of data scraping (automated extraction of personal data from online platforms).
  • How social media companies and other websites can protect individuals’ personal data.
  • The actions individuals can take to minimise harms from scraping.
Through this joint initiative, the Data Protection signatories have been engaging with global social media platforms to ensure they have sufficient safeguards in place to protect their billions of users from unlawful harvesting of their personal data.

“Data-scraping poses a global risk that calls for a global response”, Commissioner Homan said. “In joining forces with our international data protection partners we are setting out key global expectations for social media companies towards ensuring adequate safeguards to combat non-authorised scraping”.

Key takeaways from the Joint Statement include:
  • Publicly accessible personal information is still subject to data protection laws.
  • Social media companies have legal obligations to protect personal information from unlawful data scraping.
  • Mass data scraping can constitute reportable data breaches.
  • Individuals can take actions to protect themselves and mitigate the harms of data scraping.
The enforcement exercise to protect people’s information from illegal data scraping practices was initiated by the Global Privacy Assembly’s (GPA) International Enforcement Cooperation Working Group, of which the ODPA is now a co-chair, together with data protection and privacy authorities from Colombia, Canada, Norway and Hong Kong.

The GPA is a global forum of over 130 data protection and privacy authorities which provides leadership at international level.

The results of the data scraping initiative are planned to be released later this year. The Washington panel will serve to discuss the Joint Initiative to date and highlight the risks of illegal data scraping and what can be done to combat it.