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Dotloop Privacy Controversy

Dotloop, the widely used real estate transaction management software by Zillow Group, recently changed its privacy policy to allow the sharing of data with third parties.

This change authorised Zillow to share any and all data they hold about users with anyone they see fit. Users were given until midnight on July the 16th to opt out of the new terms and conditions or see information about themselves dating back as far as January the 1st 2016 potentially being handed over or sold to people outside of Zillow.

Those that missed the deadline can still opt out but this will only restrict data sharing from that date onwards. Information collected prior to opting out can still be shared, and indeed may already have been distributed by the software’s manufacturers.

To opt out of the new policy, registered users need to email and clearly state their intention to  opt out of affiliate sharing and wish to stop having information shared with 3rd parties outside Dotloop.

What data could have been shared about me?

According to the new data policy, Zillow is now entitled (unless you opt out) to collect any non-personally identifiable information such as language spoken, occupation, location, ZIP code, area code, unique device identifier, and the time zone  of where the software is used. They can also collect and use the IP addresses and browser information of anybody who interacts with the site. But it is not just realtor information being shared and the data of clients is also open for distribution by the new policy, even though they may feel that they are not subject to the new terms

Dotloop claim that the collection of data will help them better understand how users utilise their software so they can improve the product. But as the data policy is aimed at sharing with 3rd parties, many feel that the change constitutes a breach of their rights. 

Does Dotloop’s terms matter for my business at all?

The significance of Zillow owning Dotloop is that they have access to all of the consumer information on all of the transactions in the system, and their latest change to their privacy policy indicates that they will be using that information to their benefit as buyers and as a brokerage. That’s just an example showing how huge that data is in the real estate industry and the unique position of Zillow.

Of course Zillow is not the only company that could exploit consumer data, but they are uniquely positioned to do so through their series of acquisitions and their overlapping businesses. There is no room for fear or panic, but it’s important to be clear eyed. Zillow’s mortgage and title businesses have years worth of buyer and seller data to offer their services to. Their iBuying arm has consolidated data that could potentially drive down their customer acquisition costs, and they can already save on commission by hiring in-house agents. We shouldn’t be surprised, a company doing what companies do: seeking profitability to drive stock prices and benefit their stockholders.

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