September 22, 2019

Report: “LinkedIn Can’t Block Analytics Company From Scraping Profiles”

From Media Post:

LinkedIn can’t rely on a 33-year-old anti-hacking law to prevent prevent the analytics firm HiQ Labs from mining data, a federal appellate court ruled Monday.

The ruling, issued by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, leaves in place an injunction that requires LinkedIn to allow publicly available data about its users to be scraped by HiQ.

The decision stems from a dispute dating to May of 2017, when the Microsoft-owned LinkedIn demanded that HiQ stop scraping data from the service. HiQ gathers data from LinkedIn’s publicly available pages, examines the information to determine which employees are at risk of being poached, and then sells its findings to employers.

LinkedIn contended that HiQ’s scraping violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a 1986 law that makes it illegal to access computer services without authorization.

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From Reuters:

The 3-0 decision by the San Francisco appeals court sets back Silicon Valley’s battle against “data scraping,” or extracting information from social media accounts or websites, which critics say can equate to theft or violate users’ privacy.

Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon said hiQ, which makes software to help employers determine whether employees will stay or quit, showed it faced irreparable harm absent an injunction because it might go out of business without access.

She also said giving companies such as LinkedIn “free rein” over who can use public user data risked creating “information monopolies” that harm the public interest.

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In a statement, LinkedIn said it was disappointed with the decision and evaluating its options, and will “fight to protect our members and the information they entrust” to it.

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Direct to Full Text of Appellate Court Decision
38 pages; PDF.

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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