CyberNews Briefs

Court rules that data scraping is legal in LinkedIn appeal

The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that LinkedIn cannot stop a major competitor, hiQ Labs, from scraping publicly available user data from its site. Although the information is public, LinkedIn argued that harvesting it from the site is illegal. The case has gone on for roughly five years after LinkedIn filed the claim in 2017. In addition, LinkedIn began blocking hiQ’s ability to scrape data from public profiles, arguing that hiQ was violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and LinkedIn’s own terms of use that regulate how its platform operates.

The courts initially ruled that LinkedIn could not block hiQ from scraping the data, a ruling that was later backed by the Ninth Circuit in 2019. In addition, the Circuit Judge stated that there is little to no evidence that LinkedIn users who chose to make their profiles public understand that they are choosing to share information. However, LinkedIn was not satisfied with the answer and took the case to the US Supreme Court, which ruled that federal computer crime law does not criminalize scraping publicly available internet information. The SCOTUS sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit, where the matter was finally settled. The Electronic Frontier Foundation commented on the matter, saying that instead of fighting the data scraping battle with the startup, the company should push Congress to adopt biometric consumer privacy laws.

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