By David Estrada
Regulatory Compliance Specialist
Dealers, beware! As the spooky season is upon us, a new monster has emerged in the data privacy realm: session replay tools, also known as “session recordings.” Some websites have the ability to record and recreate a consumer’s entire visit to the website, from logging keystrokes and tracking the cursor’s movements to recording clicks and other interactions. This practice has been characterized as “looking over the shoulder of each visitor to the [business’s] website for the entire duration of their website interaction” in one highly-publicized lawsuit.
Benefits to the Organization
Proponents of these tools state that this practice provides the business with highly valuable information to help better understand how the website is navigated, improve the user’s experience, and learn which features are working well. As you can imagine, dealers could use this information to better advertise certain vehicle specials, understand which areas of their sites produce the most customer engagement, and improve the overall user experience.
Consumer Consent is at the Heart of the Issue
On the other hand, the opponents (i.e. the plaintiffs in class action lawsuits related to session replay tools) allege that this practice is being done without the consumer’s consent and in situations where the consumer outright declines to have their personal information collected or shared with outside parties. To make matters worse, this data might ultimately be shared with third-party vendors. If true, these practices potentially violate various state laws, such as the California Invasion of Privacy Act and the Missouri Wiretap Act, as well as other federal laws. At least these are some of the creative arguments plaintiff attorneys have proposed! Though some of the lawsuits in this area have been thrown out due to factual issues, others proceed when they involve users inputting sensitive information in specific chat bot tools where the information is recorded, stored, and shared.
Disclosure is Key