Supreme Court gives LinkedIn another chance to block data scraping

Few years ago, LinkedIn has been told by a US federal judge that he cannot prevent competitors like hiQ Labs from retrieving personal data from public profiles. But Monday, the The United States Supreme Court overturned this decision, sending him back to the 9th circuit of appeal.

This is due to a recent decision of June 4 which restricted the scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a federal anti-piracy law that blocks access to a computer without authorization. In that particular decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a person cannot be guilty of misusing the information if they were allowed to use the computer in question.

It all started in 2017 when LinkedIn accused hiQ of removing LinkedIn’s public profiles. hiQ would then use the data to create algorithms that could predict when employees might leave their jobs. LinkedIn said hiQ violated the above anti-piracy law, while hiQ accused LinkedIn of being anti-competitive. hiQ sued LinkedIn, saying public data should remain public.

As mentioned, the US 9th Circuit Appeal has blocked LinkedIn from blocking hiQ, stating that the law does not apply in situations where data is already publicly available. Since then, however, LinkedIn has argued in the Supreme Court that hiQ bots can collect data on a scale greater than what a person can do. In addition, some of this data has been for sale.

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