On Monday, US judge Edward Chen ordered LinkedIn to allow HiQ Labs, a talent management startup, to scrape public profile data. But why did LinkedIn try to stop it?
Some users of LinkedIn want to change their jobs. They apply to some firms quietly.
Thus, they make changes to their profile to make sure that they look best to their potential new employers.
However, a third-party, like HiQ Labs spots that change and alerts their current employers.
This is the kind of scenario that LinkedIn doesn’t want their users to experience. However, with the recent ruling, it can no longer stop third-parties to monitor the platform’s trove of data.
The court ruled that the social media platform must remove those limitations that prevent other apps from scraping its members’ data.
In a statement, HiQ said:
“This ruling allows us to continue serving our clients while we seek to permanently prevent LinkedIn from monopolizing the aggregation and analysis of publicly available information on the web. This is a step in the right direction to ensure that any person or company looking to build a business on data analytics of public data may do so. This includes any company who may have received a cease-and-desist letter from LinkedIn or other companies trying to exert exclusive control over information designated public by their users.”
In May, the social media platform asked the startup company to stop scraping its site because it violates its terms and conditions of use.
LinkedIn submitted a letter to HiQ to indicate that the platform implemented measures to prevent the startup from scraping its data. If it attempts to bypass the protection would mean a violation of the CFAA and Digital Millennium Act.
But the Court stated:
“In particular, the Court is doubtful that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act may be invoked by LinkedIn to punish hiQ for accessing publicly available data; the broad interpretation of the CFAA advocated by LinkedIn, if adopted, could profoundly impact open access to the Internet, a result that Congress could not have intended when it enacted the CFAA over three decades ago. Furthermore, hiQ has raised serious questions as to whether LinkedIn, in blocking hiQ‟s access to public data, possibly as a means of limiting competition, violates state law.”
The legal action against the social media platform started in June. HiQ said that the social network, with over 500 million members around the world, violated the antitrust laws.
Furthermore, the startup company argued that LinkedIn couldn’t prove data ownership shared by its members.
HiQ said that its tools don’t analyze those private areas of LinkedIn. Instead, they only review public profile details.
It also added that it doesn’t sell the data collected. Instead, it’s using it for valuable analysis that it offers to the employers.
It’s like Google or Bing that copies and indexes huge portions of LinkedIn’s data and display those details in the SERP.
The social network is planning to appeal. In a statement to Reuters:
“This case is not over. We will continue to fight to protect our members’ ability to control the information they make available on LinkedIn.”