LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner (left) and Chairman Reid Hoffman (right) with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (center). Microsoft bought LinkedIn last year. (credit: Microsoft)
A small company called hiQ is locked in a high-stakes battle over Web scraping with LinkedIn.
It’s a fight that could determine whether anti-hacking law can be used to curtail the use of scraping tools across the Web.
HiQ scrapes data about thousands of employees from public LinkedIn profiles, then packages the data for sale to employers worried about their employees quitting. LinkedIn, which was acquired by Microsoft last year, sent hiQ a cease-and-desist letter warning that this scraping violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the controversial 1986 law that makes computer hacking a crime. HiQ sued, asking courts to rule that its activities did not, in fact, violate the CFAA.
James Grimmelmann, a professor at Cornell Law School, told Ars that the stakes here go well beyond the fate of one little-known company.
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