Ninth Circuit Okays Web Scraping in LinkedIn v. HiQ—Again

April 19, 2022

A federal appeals court has reaffirmed its earlier ruling that LinkedIn must allow hiQ, a data analytics firm, to scrape user data from public profiles. The Ninth Circuit originally upheld an injunction against LinkedIn in 2019, but the Supreme Court ordered the appeals court to rehear the case based on the Court’s interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in Van Buren v. United States. In the new ruling, the Ninth Circuit discounted the argument that LinkedIn users “have an expectation of privacy in public profiles” and concluded that an injunction was warranted based largely on “hiQ’s assertion that the survival of its business is threatened[.]” The Court also rejected LinkedIn’s argument that hiQ had violated the CFAA, reasoning that hiQ did not “exceed authorized access” by scraping user data despite receiving a cease-and-desist letter from LinkedIn. EPIC filed two amicus briefs in support of LinkedIn users, one before the Ninth Circuit and one urging the Supreme Court to hear the case. In its Supreme Court brief, EPIC argued that the Ninth Circuit’s reasoning “makes it impossible” for companies to protect personal data and sets “a dangerous precedent that could threaten the privacy of user data.” EPIC routinely files amicus briefs in consumer privacy cases.

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