In precedient setting case - US court rules that LinkedIN cannot prevent scrapers


A US federal judged ruled last monday that LinkedIN (owned by microsoft), cannot prevent scraping. In a Washington Post article discussing the judgement, Brian Fung, considers if LinkedIN is trying to protect user data - or hoard it to give LinkedIN an edge over the competiton.

Read the full judgement here.

Over on huffPost, there is a pretty good analysis of the judgjement if you're looking for a quick summary.

Here  are some interesting highlights that stood out to me [emphasis is mine]

" Regarding LinkedIn’s Recruiter product: “However, hiQ presented marketing materials at the hearing which indicate that regardless of other privacy settings, information including profile changes are conveyed to third parties who subscribe to Recruiter. Indeed, these materials inform potential customers that when they “follow” another user , “[f]rom now on, when they update their profile or celebrate a work anniversary, you’ll receive an update on your homepage. And don’t worry they don’t know you’re following them.” LinkedIn thus trumpets its own product in a way that seems to afford little deference to the very privacy concerns it professes to be protecting in this case.”

Regarding the likelihood of users actually reading a privacy policy: “It is unlikely, however, that most users’ actual privacy expectations are shaped by the fine print of a privacy policy buried in the User Agreement that likely few, if any, users have actually read.”

Regarding LinkedIn protecting their users’ privacy: “The asserted harm LinkedIn faces, by contrast, is tied to its users’ expectations of privacy and any impact on user trust in LinkedIn. However, those expectations are uncertain at best, and in any case, LinkedIn’s own actions do not appear to have zealously safeguarded those privacy interests.” " "

Interesting comments in the articles and Twitter included:

OldGrumpyGuy says, "The only reason LinkedIn is protecting user data is the same why Google eventually started to use encryption on its services: they want to protect their own income. Any allusions that this is to protect the end users should be seen as marketing rather than truth.."