a judge just issued an early ruling against LinkedIn’s abuse of the notorious Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) to block a competing service from perfectly legal uses of publicly available data on its website.
Update 06.09.2017: LinkedIn is appealing a court order that requires the company to allow the startup HiQ Labs to access publicly available data about users.
Linkedin’s fight against scraping public profiles and company pages.
During the recent months, Linkedin and HiQ have been fighting in the US courts about the right to scrape public available profiles and company pages on www.linkedin.com
A US judge has now ruled that it is legal and that Linkedin is prohibited to prevent individuals or companies to make use of the data.
The big dilemma for Linkedin
By scraping Linkedins public pages it is not only possible for competitors to take advantage of the data scraped from Linkedin, but more important, companies like HiQ can offer their clients premium services by using AI to interpret the meaning of changes in personal profiles and company pages, e.g. HiQ claim they can predict when an employee is considering to change their job, and sell this information to their clients.
Next steps and options
Linkedin will, without doubt, continue the process in the US courts due to the strategic importance of the rulings. Linkedin, most likely, have to allow US entities to continue(/begin) their scraping activities.
But, what about the rest of the world, e.g. the European Union?
EU has been very harsh on the US giants the recent years and in many cases being frontrunners setting the agenda on worldwide activities. The EU commissioner of competition, Margrethe Vestager, is most likely going to take a similar position as the US judges.
Will Linkedin discontinue public data?
Linkedin has more than 500 million members, and one could argue that the benefits for Linkedin and its members having public profiles are diminished day by day. The question is if Linkedin will take a strategic decision to completely discontinue public profiles and company pages?
Only one can tell: Jeff Weiner