LinkedIn loses appeal to block data scraping

28 April 2022

An appeals court in the US has ruled that web scraping, or automatically extracting information from websites and storing it for later use, is legal. This ruling protects a tool commonly used by researchers, but deals a major blow to Microsoft-owned social networking site LinkedIn, which claims the practice endangers user privacy.

In 2019 the U.S. Ninth Circuit of Appeals affirmed a preliminary injunction stopping LinkedIn from blocking data company hiQ Labs from accessing publicly visible LinkedIn member profiles.

HiQ uses data scraped from public sections of LinkedIn to create reports for corporate customers, identifying which of their employees are most likely to quit and which are most likely to be targeted by recruiters.

Bloomberg Businessweek staff writer Drake Bennett explains to CBS News how hiQ uses data scraped from LinkedIn profiles.

LinkedIn told the court an injunction allowing hiQ to resume scraping would threaten users’ privacy and possibly damage the goodwill built up between LinkedIn and its users. But because hiQ risked going out of business if blocked from scraping LinkedIn, the court concluded that denying an injunction would probably inflict more hardship on hiQ than allowing an injunction would inflict on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn said in a statement it would continue to fight to protect its members’ ability to control the information they make available on LinkedIn, and that it continues to prohibit unauthorized scraping on the platform.

- CyberBeat

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