Court Rules that LinkedIn Cannot Stop Third Party Data Scraping of Public Information

In a case that could have significant implications in the digital sector, LinkedIn has lost an appeal to stop a third party company from scraping user profiles in order to gather publicly available information en masse, and use that to build its own analytics engine.

As explained by Reuters:

"The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals let stand an August 2017 preliminary injunction that required LinkedIn, to give hiQ Labs Inc. access to publicly available member profiles. The 3-0 decision by the San Francisco appeals court sets back Silicon Valley’s battle against “data scraping,” or extracting information from social media accounts or websites, which critics say can equate to theft or violate users’ privacy."

hiQ Labs uses LinkedIn profile information in order to build data profiles which can predict when an employee is more likely to leave a company.

"hiQ’s retention platform scours the web for any publicly available information about a company’s employees and then its data science engine extracts strong signals from that noise that indicate someone may be a flight risk. Based on the statistical patterns observed across hundreds of thousands of employees, powerful machine learning models then assign each of those employees a risk score: high (red), medium (yellow), or low (green). Companies are able to pinpoint with laser-like accuracy the employees that are highest risk, focus retention efforts on those employees, and keep them engaged and contributing happily to the organization."

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