According to the Ninth Circuit of Appeals, Scraping public data is allowed in a potentially significant judgment.
The result followed a federal court of appeals decision that confirmed an earlier finding, namely that online scraping (bulk data gathering) of data made available to the general public does not violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
Under US law, the CFAA decides what constitutes “hacking.”
The decision marks the conclusion of a legal struggle between LinkedIn and hiQ Labs, a talent management algorithm that focuses on people analytics and data science machine learning. The latter has been scraping LinkedIn user accounts, which the world’s largest professional social network has defined as a breach of its terms of service, equivalent to hacking, and violating the CFAA.
LinkedIn lost the first case in 2019, but the company refused to give up even after the second setback.
“We’re disappointed in the court’s decision. This is a preliminary ruling, and the case is far from over,” said LinkedIn spokesperson Greg Snapper.
“We will continue to fight to protect our members’ ability to control the information they make available on LinkedIn. When your data is taken without permission and used in ways you haven’t agreed to, that’s not okay. On LinkedIn, our members trust us with their information, which is why we prohibit unauthorized scraping on our platform.”
TechCrunch reports on the news with a positive spin, stating that the verdict is “excellent news for archivists, scholars, researchers, and journalists.”
“Without a ruling in place, long-running projects to archive websites no longer online and using publicly accessible data for academic and research studies have been left in legal limbo,” it says.
However, it also serves to remind some firms that using web scraping, such as that of face recognition startup Clearview AI, is prohibited. Over the years, one corporation has deleted “billions of social network profile images.”