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hiQ wins preliminary injunction to scrape LinkedIn’s data

LinkedIn was dealt an unfortunate hand in its gamble to prevent start up hiQ Labs from accessing its public profile data hosted on its site.

A U.S. District Judge in San Francisco recently awarded hiQ and preliminary injunction that forces LinkedIn to remove any technology that prevents the company from scrapping its publically available employee profiles.

Back in May, LinkedIn and hiQ began engaging in a legal battle over whether LinkedIn had the authority to prevent hiQ from using the company’s publically indexed employee profiles. hiQ is a start up that uses LinkedIn’s profiles to provide employers predictive analytics and packages that help judge whether an employee is likely to leave a company.

The hiQ and LinkedIn case became an industry hot button as hiQ alleged the professional social network of engaging in antitrust behavior and for a recently Microsoft owned property, that’s a bad look.

As Reuters is reporting, LinkedIn is understandably disappointed in the decision and plans to appeal the ruling as it brings into question how much protection LinkedIn users have over info on the company’s servers.

“We’re disappointed in the court’s ruling. This case is not over. We will continue to fight to protect our members’ ability to control the information they make available on LinkedIn.”

On the other hand, hiQ and companies in similar situations such as San Francisco based Node see the win as a staple that prevents large companies from essentially stifling start ups from competing.

“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.”

While LinkedIn may be forced to remove current technologies preventing hiQ from access and filing an appeal to the ruling, it seems like only a matter of time before the company begins implementing other measures to put its user’s info behind another wall of protection. As Microsoft and LinkedIn continue to work together to better integrate the services and resources of the two companies, hiQ’s access to LinkedIn’s info may be on short order.

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Who do you believe is right in this case, and why?