LinkedIn has won its lawsuit against hiQ over the latter’s practice of scraping data from LinkedIn’s website against the company’s User Agreement.
LinkedIn’s User Agreement prohibits companies from scraping personal data, using scraped data, and creating fake accounts. Scraping data refers to the process of collecting information from websites, most often using automated methods, bots, and scripts. For years, hiQ ignored those terms and collected LinkedIn user data, leading to the lawsuit.
Sarah Wight, VP, Legal – Litigation, Competition, and Enforcement at LinkedIn, shared news of the win in a post on the site:
Today in the hiQ legal proceeding, the Court announced a significant win for LinkedIn and our members against personal data scraping, among other platform abuses. The Court ruled that LinkedIn’s User Agreement unambiguously prohibits scraping and the unauthorized use of scraped data as well as fake accounts, affirming LinkedIn’s legal positions against hiQ for the past six years. The Court also found that hiQ knew for years that its actions violated our User Agreement, and that LinkedIn is entitled to move forward with its claim that hiQ violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
According to AdWeek, Judge Edward Chen said hiQ “experimented and attempted to reverse engineer LinkedIn’s systems and to avoid detection by simulating human site-access behaviors. hiQ also hired independent contractors known as ‘turkers’ to conduct quality assurance while ‘logged-in’ to LinkedIn by viewing and confirming hiQ customers’ employees’ identities manually.”
The ruling is good news for LinkedIn, as well as its users, and goes a long way toward protecting platforms and their users from unauthorized use. The ruling continues a precedent set when LinkedIn won a similar case against Mantheos, also over data scraping.
The type of behavior hiQ was found guilty of is not uncommon in the tech world. Another infamous example is Clearview AI, a company that built a facial recognition database by scraping some of the most popular websites in the world, including top social media platforms. The victim companies and websites have consistently maintained that Clearview’s actions go against their terms and user agreements. With LinkedIn winning both of its cases, companies like Clearview may — thankfully — have a short lifespan.