Changing job could become a lot more complicated as LinkedIn is told it has to allow third-party bots to scrape content and spot changes.
Microsoft – the parent company of LinkedIn – has been told by a US court that its users are legally allowed to have their data scraped by third-party companies, despite claims that it violates privacy laws.
According to The Verge, the decision was made by a US district court in relation to a lawsuit brought by hiQ Labs against LinkedIn.
The case was originally brought before the courts by LinkedIn against hiQ Labs, a company that wants to scrape user data from the former, allowing employers to see if an employee is likely to change job.
However, the start-up countersued and now the judge presiding over the case has granted a preliminary injunction to hiQ Labs to allow it gain access to LinkedIn data.
In his comment on the case, the judge said that LinkedIn was “unfairly leveraging its power in the professional networking market for an anti-competitive purpose”.
He went on to equate LinkedIn’s demand to block access to bots capable of scraping pages on the site with trying to “block access by individuals or groups on the basis of race or gender discrimination”.
In a statement, hiQ Labs called the decision an “important victory” for itself and similar companies.
“HiQ believes that public data must remain public, and innovation on the internet should not be stifled by legal bullying or the anti-competitive hoarding of public data by a small group of powerful companies,” it said.
‘This case is not over’
Meanwhile, LinkedIn has issued its own statement, unsurprisingly saying it is disappointed with the outcome.
However, it vowed to continue the battle.
“This case is not over,” said company spokesperson Nicole Leverich. “We will continue to fight to protect our members’ ability to control the information they make available on LinkedIn.”
This decision will now mean that if an employer is subscribed to hiQ Labs’ or any other similar company’s service, they could be subjected to regular scraping from bots, which will spot any changes made by a user in preparation for a potential new job opportunity.