Magazine article American Banker

First Union Confirms It Is Suing a 'Screen Scraper'

Magazine article American Banker

First Union Confirms It Is Suing a 'Screen Scraper'

Article excerpt

First Union Corp. confirmed Tuesday that it filed suit Dec. 30 against an Internet company it says lifted customer information off of its Web site in a way that threatens customer privacy.

First Union claims that Secure Commerce Services of Princeton, N.J. is taking customers' on-line banking information from the First Union Web site without the banking company's consent, and that it is not keeping certain customer account data safe.

Secure Commerce lets consumers see their bank account information and pay their bills through its Paytrust Web site. The company gathers customers' financial information directly from the Web sites of other companies, at the request of its customers.

The company is one of a new breed of "aggregators" informally known as "screen scrapers." Such companies get permission from customers to collect account-related data and consolidate it in one place. Scrapers are raising the hackles of banks that fear being disintermediated and worry about misuse of customer information by screen scrapers.

First Union filed its lawsuit just days after it issued guidelines intended to regulate the practices of screen-scraping companies.

Observers were divided as to whether First Union's guidelines, which require aggregators to sign contracts and follow privacy standards, would provide much protection for the $235 billion-asset banking company.

First Union "is not in a terribly strong position" to fight off the aggregators, said Octavio Marenzi, managing director of the bank research and consulting firm Celent Communications. …

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