The Data War is raging.
Automotive dealers are becoming more enlightened daily as they are being exposed at NADA and through forums such as DealerElite to the very serious matter of consumer and dealer data leakage. By data leakage, I am referring to the unrestricted polling or scraping of their dealership DMS (computer systems) by vendors providing software "solutions" that are suppose to be helping dealers organize and maximize sales. Typically, these vendors have inserted unrestricted access to secured data into fine print clauses within service agreements. Dealer representatives, many without authorization to release data, are signing agreements for a separate "solution" with no knowledge that they have opened the DMS data gates to their tech savvy "partner". Vendor affiliations, partnerships and outright direct procurement have combined dealership data into online resources now being used against the very source they took it from. (Under most circumstances while charging the dealer for their "solution")
Some recent history: Case Review - TrueCar.com
TrueCar.com is the most recognizable culprit of this Data War. Their handling of dealership relations early on spurred automotive activists, such as Jim Ziegler, to challenge their business plan. Much has happened since then including legislative action, dealership cancellations, and most importantly... a dogged review of how they were procuring dealership data. For TrueCar.com the result was the halting of business in multiple states and the refining of their business plan time and time again.
The dogged review of data procurement exposed fine print releases within vendor agreements and an accumulation algorithm from multiple sources that combined customer and dealer data. Data which eventually turned up being used against dealers in online consumer pricing "tools" while dealers paid $299 - $399 per TC vehicle sold.
Hence, the Data Wars. Automotive dealers were thrust into learning more about computer vendor software / hardware technology and contract data release clauses to be able to make reasonable decisions to protect their dealership and consumer data.
One possible solution to minimize wasted time, money and learning requirements... Lock down critical fields. Fields are pieces of each consumer's record. Dealership DMS stores records, made up of fields, to hold tens of thousands of consumers information. An example of this can be found in Microsoft's Excel. With Excel, you have records in rows and fields in columns. All dealers have to do is Lock Down individual columns with critical information.
Do not allow anyone access to data that is harmful or required to be secured.
Your input is welcome.