Login | February 03, 2023

The LinkedIn- hiQ case finally settles

RICHARD WEINER
Technology for Lawyers

Published: December 30, 2022

After trips all through the federal court system—to the Supreme Court and back—defunct Chinese company hiQ has settled its data scraping case with LinkedIn.
HiQ had used fake accounts and bots to scrape public data about LinkedIn users starting in 2012, and then had sold that data as “business analytics” to its customers. LinkedIn blocked hiQ from doing this and sent a a cease-and-desist letter to hiQ. HiQ successfully sued LinkedIn in District court, and through appellate court and at SCOTUS and then again after the case was remanded.
In the meantime, LinkedIn’s restrictions stayed in place and hiQ went out of business. H
The case has been viewed by numerous analysts as one of the more important computer data business needs vs. privacy cases in the federal hopper. And now it’s over. A good summary of the law and procedure is here: https://globalfreedomofexpression.columbia.edu/cases/hiq-labs-v-linkedin/
Then on December 8, the parties announced a consent judgment that will end this case when the court accepts it. The actual terms are confidential, but the parties filed a stipulation that encompasses the points of the settlement.
In the agreement, hiQ and some related parties will be permanently enjoined from violating LinkedIn’s TOS by scraping data without permission, creating fake accounts, or using LinkedIn to create a commercial business without LinkedIn’s express permission, or using or distributing scraping bots. HiQ also has to immediately delete any software that it has on LinkedIn and delete any data it possesses that came from its data scraping operation.
HiQ will pay $500,000 to LinkedIn, and stipulates that it did violate or could be found liable to have violated California laws on trespass and data privacy and that LinkedIn has suffered “irreparable harm” under those laws.
An analysis by Jeffrey Neuburger of Proskauer Rose notes that the agreement has no precedential value, and therefore leaves the legal questions brought by this litigation unanswered for the moment.
But he does note that the decision in Circuit court against LinkedIn in the data privacy complaint still stands, and that that decision is “the most emphatic, pro-scraping circuit court decision in technology law history…”. It is hiQ Labs v. LinkedIn Corp., 938 F.3d 985 (2019) (on the, you know, off chance you get a California data scraping case walk through the door).


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