Does the existing IDX policy allow mobile sites? How about mobile applications?

May 6, 2011 Michael Wurzer

I’ve written a couple of posts recently about the kerfuffle over the recommendation of a NAR work group to clarify that IDX data can be used on mobile, social, and RSS sites. The specific recommendation is to change the IDX policy as follows:

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I read this recommendation as trying to conform the language of the IDX policy to the current reality today that agents and brokers are sharing IDX listings via social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), RSS and mobile devices. Following publication of the recommendation, however, many letters and blog posts were written objecting primarily to sharing IDX data on social networks and via RSS.

Of note, however, none of the groups objecting appear to have the same problems with the idea of sharing IDX listings via mobile devices. In fact, just as IDX already is being used on social networks and RSS, there also already are several mobile products that make use of IDX data, such as Goomzee, Kurio, myAgent by IDX Inc., Pocket Listings, and others.

But here’s the fascinating question/dilemma I see coming if (or, more practically, when) the recommended change is rejected and the current language of “participant’s public web site” remains:

  • Will mobile sites still be allowed under the definition of “participant’s public web site”? How about mobile applications, which aren’t even web sites at all?

This question is more than just mental gymnastics. The work group clearly thought the current language of “participant’s public web site” needed clarification, and listed mobile, social and RSS specifically. At the same time, those objecting must believe that the current language excludes social and RSS or objecting to the recommendation wouldn’t do any good.

But what about mobile, which also is part of the recommendation? If the recommendation is rejected, will mobile use now be prohibited as well as social and RSS? If not, then that must mean a mobile web site and mobile applications (which aren’t even web sites at all) fall within the definition of “participant’s public web site.” If that’s true, how is anyone to know what “participant’s web site” includes and doesn’t? After all, a mobile web site is no more the “participant’s web site” than is their profile page in Facebook or Twitter. Moreover, as mentioned above, mobile applications are not even web sites at all.

So, the question looms: What does “participant’s public web site” mean in the current policy and does it already include mobile sites and applications?