First Union Corp., which just a few months ago seemed to be a role model for banking companies opposed to screen scraping, seems to have reversed its position: It is now collaborating with a screen-scraping company that it once sued and has made an equity investment in a second screen-scraper.

Companies that cull customer information from others' Web sites - usually without the site owners' knowledge or authorization - are known as screen scrapers. Most banking companies have refrained from using screen-scraping technology for fear of compromising customers' privacy. But amid growing evidence that banks' Web sites will be targeted no matter what, some bankers seem to be adopting the attitude: "Scrape or be scraped."

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