US appeals court says web scraping is legal, despite what LinkedIn claims

midian182

Posts: 7,902   +82
Staff member
What just happened? A US appeals court has reaffirmed an earlier ruling that states companies or individuals who scrape publicly accessible data from the web aren't breaking the law. The result contradicts Microsoft-owned LinkedIn's claim that web scraping is illegal and a threat to user privacy.

The US Ninth Circuit of Appeals ruling is the latest chapter in a long-running battle between workforce analytics startup HiQ Labs and LinkedIn. The employment-focused social network sent HiQ Labs a cease and desist letter in 2017 demanding that it stop scraping its members' public profile data; something it did approximately every two weeks as part of a service offered to businesses looking to "determine skills gaps or turnover risks months ahead of time."

LinkedIn claimed the web scraping violated the 1986 Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). It implemented "technical measures" to stop HiQ Labs from accessing its site, which led to the firm launching a lawsuit against LinkedIn.

A judge found in favor of HiQ Labs in 2017 and granted a preliminary injunction against LinkedIn that prevented it from restricting the former's access to public profiles. LinkedIn appealed, but the Ninth Circuit was also on HiQ Labs' side in 2019, finding that CFAA does not bar anyone from scraping publicly accessible data.

Undeterred, LinkedIn appealed to the US Supreme Court, which in June narrowed the CFAA's definitions of accessing a computer system "without authorization" and when doing so "exceeds authorized access." It ruled that the latter does not cover breaking terms of services alone, but the Supreme Court also sent the case back to the ninth court for reconsideration.

Now, the ninth court has ruled that "the concept of 'without authorization' does not apply to public websites," thereby preventing LinkedIn from blocking HiQ Labs' web scraping.

Despite the setback, LinkedIn isn't giving up. "We're disappointed in the court's decision. This is a preliminary ruling and the case is far from over," said LinkedIn spokesperson Greg Snapper in a statement. "We will continue to fight to protect our members' ability to control the information they make available on LinkedIn. When your data is taken without permission and used in ways you haven't agreed to, that's not okay. On LinkedIn, our members trust us with their information, which is why we prohibit unauthorized scraping on our platform."

Masthead credit: Ink Drop

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Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,364   +5,591
Anything presented to the public is public info. If you wnt info to be private.....make it private. This isnt hard to understand.

And LOL at microsoft being involved. The same company that wants to use an AI to scan all your apps and report them to MS's cloud service and has intrusive telemetry EVERYWHERE in windows. And they care about "privacy". Riiiiight.
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 2,014   +1,205
Anything presented to the public is public info. If you wnt info to be private.....make it private. This isnt hard to understand.

And LOL at microsoft being involved. The same company that wants to use an AI to scan all your apps and report them to MS's cloud service and has intrusive telemetry EVERYWHERE in windows. And they care about "privacy". Riiiiight.
Which is exactly why I hope they win and set a legal precedent that shoots them in the foot later.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,364   +5,591
Which is exactly why I hope they win and set a legal precedent that shoots them in the foot later.
Granted that WOULD be hilarious, but if that precident was set it would be horrible for archivists and anyone who wants to call out the hypocracy of the smug hypocrites that run tech platforms (or anything else for that matter).
 

ZedRM

Posts: 1,039   +726
The position LinkedIn took was laughable and without merit. Several courts have pointed that out to them. You think they'd get a clue..
 
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FF222

Posts: 296   +277
"A US appeals court has reaffirmed an earlier ruling that states companies or individuals who scrape publicly accessible data from the web aren't breaking the law"
They did not do that. First, this was just a preliminary ruling. And second, the court just said that there are doubts whether the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is relevant and can be used by LinkedIn in this particular scraping case. Nothing more, nothing less.
 

tellmewhy

Posts: 183   +86
So you can read a public available bio only if you want to hire that person, but how are you suppose to know before you read it? Their demand doesn't make any sense.

Their members ability to control their information is implemented via the copyright system. So they have to sue for copyright. It will be a lot of fun to watch the mess which will be happen after that.

At the end we will have bios with licenses. Isnā€™t funny? šŸ˜…
 

waclark

Posts: 350   +238
Anything presented to the public is public info. If you wnt info to be private.....make it private. This isnt hard to understand.

snip

Well, there is a difference in something being public and someone making money off your data. In order to advertise my business, I need to make some info about it public. But, just because I advertise that info, why should someone be able to come along, scrape my web site and monetize that data without my permission?

Just because something is public doesn't mean you have the right to take my data/info and make money from it. Consider an artist or a poet or a book writer, who may put some portions of their work online for people to see. You can't take that and treat is as your own work and sell it. Not without compensating the creator of the work, ie copyrighted material.
 

TsVkK

Posts: 103   +60
Well, there is a difference in something being public and someone making money off your data. In order to advertise my business, I need to make some info about it public. But, just because I advertise that info, why should someone be able to come along, scrape my web site and monetize that data without my permission?

Just because something is public doesn't mean you have the right to take my data/info and make money from it. Consider an artist or a poet or a book writer, who may put some portions of their work online for people to see. You can't take that and treat is as your own work and sell it. Not without compensating the creator of the work, ie copyrighted material.
They're not selling the mined data as a product, they are using it to do analytics and selling their analyses.

LinkedIn has no standing. It's laughable in fact as there isn't even a conflict of interest or cause of loss. It's just corporate greed and bitterness.