The Law and Business of Social Media
February 05, 2020 - Web Scraping, Litigation

Combatting Unauthorized Webscraping

Socially Aware contributors Alex Lawrence and Kristina Ehle authored an article for the Computer Law Review International that discusses the impact of the hiQ Labs v. LinkedIn decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which holds that automated scraping of publicly accessible data does not violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

“While some may interpret the LinkedIn decision as greenlighting [unauthorized webscraping], this would be a mistake,” the authors wrote. “On close review of the decision, and in light of other decisions that have held unauthorized webscrapers liable, the conduct remains vulnerable to legal challenge in the United States.”

The authors added that the court “expressed concern that LinkedIn sent the cease-and-desist letter because it planned to create a new product that competed with hiQ’s services, which the court held could raise concerns under California’s unfair competition laws,” and noted that, to avoid such claims under U.S. law, “unauthorized webscrapers should be addressed promptly before they free ride for years and build a business off your data.”