United States judge says LinkedIn can not block startup from public profile data

Geronimo Vena
Agosto 15, 2017

A USA federal judge on Monday ruled that Microsoft Corp's MSFT.O LinkedIn unit cannot prevent a startup from accessing public profile data, in a test of how much control a social media site can wield over information its users have deemed to be public.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco granted a preliminary injunction request brought by hiQ Labs, and ordered LinkedIn to remove within 24 hours any technology preventing hiQ from accessing public profiles.

HiQ Labs makes software that analyzes data from public LinkedIn profiles to help employers determine which workers are likely to leave or stay.

"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", Chen wrote.

LinkedIn plans to challenge the decision, company spokeswoman Nicole Leverich said.

"We're disappointed in the court's ruling", Leverich said.

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Top News Pics Shock and Sadness Post Charlottesville CrashEduardo Munoz Alvarez AFP Getty Images

"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".

"HiQ believes that public data must remain public, and innovation on the internet should not be stifled by legal bullying or the anti-competitive hoarding of public data by a small group of powerful companies". Even though their information is already public, LinkedIn argued that users might not want to have employers tracking changes on their profiles, for example if they are seeking a new job.

"Other for-profit companies, including Google, Yahoo, and Bing, copy and index large portions of the public parts of LinkedIn's website and display that information in their search engine results for all the world to see".

HiQ said LinkedIn marketing materials indicate that the professional social network may sell services to third parties based on LinkedIn profile information, whether or not certain information has been marked as private by members.

The letter indicated that LinkedIn had implemented technological measures to prevent HiQ from continuing to scrape its data, and that further attempts to circumvent such protections would be a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the Digital Millennium Act.

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