Category : Bots

Artificial Intelligence Bots Data Licensing Major Real Estate Portals MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Risk Management

Is Data Scraping Legal?

Is Data Scraping Legal?

The question of Data Scraping has been a controversial issue for a long time. The year 2017 witnessed several important developments focused on interpretations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in separate cases involving Craigslist and Linkedin.

What is Data Scraping? Also known as Web Scraping, it is the automated method for extracting large amounts of data from a website, often through the use of Bots.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_scraping

One of the weapons used against Data Scraping is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a federal cybersecurity law enacted in 1986 as an amendment to existing computer fraud law (18 U.S.C. Sec. 1030) which had been included in the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984. The CFAA prohibits accessing a computer without authorization, or in excess of authorization if any. It is designed to protect private password mainframe computers.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Fraud_and_Abuse_Act

In Craigslist, Inc v. Instamotor, Inc, Craigslist claimed that Instamotor scraped Craigslist content to create listings on its own service and sent unsolicited emails to Craigslist users for promotional purposes to sell used cars. Craigslist has become very aggressive in pursuing claims against hackers based on breach of contract (terms of service TOS), violation of the CFAA, and the CAN-SPAM Act (disguised emails).

The case settled in favor of Craigslist for $31 million in a Stipulated Judgment and Permanent Injunction Aug. 3, 2017.
https://bit.ly/2HwzmJF

The next case involved a start up company named hiQ, a member of Linkedin (and subject to Linkedin’s TOS). What hiQ did was to scrape information from Linkedin user profiles and use the scraped data to create workforce data products that it sells to employers. Actually, hiQ tracks user generated changes to profiles in areas like work history and skills, and then uses the data to offer two products, one that helps companies identify employees who are at risk of being recruited away, and another product that helps companies map the skillsets of their employees.

The California U.S. District Court held that hiQ can use web scapers to collect information from PUBLIC Linkedin data. The Key factor in the Linkedin case was that hiQ could access and scrape only public data that was not protected by any authorization technique (such as password protected).  Interestingly, the Court granted a preliminary injunction to prohibit Linkedin from employing electronic blocking techniques designed to prevent hiQ from scraping information from public linkedin profiles.
https://bit.ly/2KiDbEi

Linkedin has appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. So we need to wait and see whether data scraping of public data is legal. Still, there is a change in the legal landscape with respect to Data Scraping. Website owners will need to examine how they control or limit access to content they collect from users.

Source: Webinar from https://www.ftcguardian.com/ – I am a charter member

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Bots Machine Learning Sales and Selling

Is A Bot In Your Future?

Is a Bot in Your Future?

For sure in 2017, real estate professionals will be hearing  more about the use of Bots, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and machine learning as productivity tools in their practice. Already we are seeing more and more articles and online discussions about Bots.

To give you an idea of what’s to come in this exciting space, here are some highlights from several articles about a San Diego company led by real estate veteran Grant Gould that is making news with the anticipated January 2017 launch of its Automabots service – www.Automabots.com

Real estate professionals, REALTOR® Associations and MLSs will want to take note that initial use of Automabots will be directed at the real estate industry. As mentioned below, AI manifestations can be powerful tools for business efficiency, so  now is the time to get informed and use them to your advantage.

  1. Inman’s Real Estate Technology Expert, Craig Rowe, recently reviewed Automabots, –

http://www.inman.com/2016/10/26/automabots-warms-up-buyer-and-seller-leads-til-theyre-hot/

Craig noted that Grant Gould is developing several bots with different purposes in the agent realm one at a time, including BuyerAgentBot, SellerAgentBot (in beta) along with a CRMBot, DigitalMarketingBot and TransactionBot that will eventually form a real estate suite.

During the initial interaction, users indicate their preferred ZIP codes, price, number of beds and baths, and communities they’re interested in to populate a relevant list of homes, which are pulled directly from the MLS, current to the last hour.

After users finish looking at the homes provided, the Automabot asks how often they would like to receive updates on available listings. Gould notes that users’ response to this question serves as a lead qualifier — someone who wants an update every two hours (or daily) is probably more motivated than the casual monthly browser. Today, that entire lead cultivation process is being replaced by text apps and bots. But agents shouldn’t see bots as a threat — the element of data control has been slipping for some time from the industry’s hands, and Kubrick’s eerie vision (of  HAL-2000) isn’t quite so dark in real life. Rather, these AI manifestations can be powerful tools for business efficiency, so get informed and use them to your advantage.

  1. Adrian Bishop, Editor for OPP.Today authored a Business Technology Editorial entitled “How Bots Can Turn Leads Into Clients And Boost Sales”
    http://www.opp.today/how-bots-can-turn-leads-into-clients-and-boost-sales/ – In his editorial, based on an interview with Automabots founder Grant Gould, Mr. Bishop wrote:

Essentially, bots are a small application that live in the cloud and utilize the machine learning technology recently made available by the tech giants. These little programs, now referred to as bots, can be taught to perform nearly any digital task that normally would be done by a human being. People can communicate with bots via chat platforms, like; Facebook Messenger, Alexa and the dozens of others.

“We teach real estate bots to do the work, so you can get more done in less time at a lower cost, “says Automabots.

Using natural language technology, your personal bot interacts with prospects to determine their exact real estate needs and delivers the information they desire without having to log in or download an app.

When Grant Gould was asked how does his service work, he responded: “Similar to Siri, Amazon Alexa, and IMB’s Watson, Automabots uses machine learning that is a combination of rule-based and natural language parsing.

“We are teaching the Bot real estate lingo, terminology and the nuances of buying and selling properties.  The Lead Capture Bot can engage online users through chat applications, like Facebook Messenger, to assess the consumer needs and then search and display the information right in the chat session. MLS properties, market stats, and home values are just some of the info it can deliver.

“It then asks the user if they would like to get alerts and updates on this information, which results in capturing a lead.  As it continues to learn what the user likes and dislikes, it gets smart in finding matching homes.”

Bots save both time and money and boost sales, says the company. “Get a highly skilled Lead Qualifier Bot for just 14 cents an hour.  No benefits, sick days, or employer cost.  You get a ready-to-work real estate Bot that is specially trained to do a specific job and do it great.  And these workers get smarter and more efficient over time.

“Real estate bots can be taught to perform many tasks currently done by humans.  We have trained our Bots to greet every person immediately, qualify their buyer and seller needs, and deliver the information they want without using any human resources.

“Having a dependable Lead Qualifier Bot on duty 24/7 to greet buyers and sellers on your website, social profiles and other lead sources will improve your lead conversion rate by as much as 300%.  Add a great lead nurturing system and watch business soar.”

  1. In an article in VisionAR entitled “Productivity AI Bots for Real Estate Agents” –
    http://visionar.today/index.php/2016/11/22/automabots-makes-productivity-bots-real-estate-agents/ – the author Lauren Twardy interviewed Grant Gould and stated:

“Though Gould expects the Bots’ utility will extend into other industries before long, Automabots is currently focused solely on real estate. Gould is a real estate veteran and understands the kind of help agents need to be productive. Gould likes to call his line of product “Productivity Bots,” which are designed to enhance rather than take over business. He explains, “consumers today want instant gratification,” and his Bots help Realtors provide that gratification by remaining on active duty 24/7. While Realtors can get thousands of visitors to their websites, social media profiles, and other lead sources, the Bots are trained to convert visitors into leads.

Gould’s “Productivity Bots” are productive. The Lead Qualifier Bot is designed to save real estate agents time and money; for just 14 cents an hour, “you get a ready-to-work real estate Bot that is trained to do a specific job and do it great.” The Automabots website explains the basic functions of the Bot:

“Greets Every Prospect.” It is designed to engage potential customers 24/7 on real estate websites, social media, and other listing sites. This provides instant gratification for consumers, which they don’t receive with website contact forms or email.
“Qualifies Buyer and Seller Needs.” The Bot can interact with customers to determine what they’re looking for and can dole out information from the massive amount of stored data.
“Captures Leads and Intel.” Not only can it record information about prospects, but the Bot can also transfer information directly to the Realtor or to an automatic lead nurturing program.
Of course, the functions of this AI are meant to grow beyond these basics. Automabots “build intelligent Bots that [they] teach to perform important tasks and that gets smarter as it does its job.”

2017 could very well be the year of the Bot in real estate. Stay tuned and explore ways the services of a Bot can help you be more efficient and productive.

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