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Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) LinkedIn Ordered To Allow Startup To Scrape Users’ Profile Data

A judge in the United States has ruled that the professional networking site Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) LinkedIn must let the scraping of data from the public profiles by hiQ, an analytics firm. Judge Edward Chen issued an injunction request which had been brought by the startup besides ordering the professional networking site to get rid of any technology that might prevent hiQ from scraping the public profiles.

“This ruling allows us to continue serving our clients while we seek to permanently prevent LinkedIn from monopolizing the aggregation and analysis of publicly available information on the web,” said hiQ in a statement.

Predicting employee behavior

hiQ Labs builds algorithms using the data from LinkedIn which are then used to predict the behavior of employees like when they are likely to leave an organization (turnover risks) as well as skills gaps. Not every user on LinkedIn is monitored by hiQ though as only those working for firms that have engaged the services of the talent management startup are.

The ruling is likely to have implications outside of hiQ and LinkedIn since it could determine the level of control that tech firms possess over the data they hold on their servers. According to hiQ, public data should remain public and such data should not be hoarded by powerful firms.LinkedIn has, however, said it will appeal the ruling of the court since it wants its members to continue to enjoy control of the data they have posted on LinkedIn.

Terms of service

The dispute between LinkedIn and hiQ started in May when the professional networking platform sent a directive to the startup ordering it to quit scraping data that was hosted on the LinkedIn service. In response hiQ filed a lawsuit which alleged that LinkedIn was violating antitrust laws.

LinkedIn has argued that the way hiQ uses its data was in breach of the platform’s terms of service. hiQ has, however, dismissed the argument saying that profile information is not private as it can be viewed by anyone without having to log in and should therefore not be closed off to third parties. The talent management startup has also pointed out that it does not scrape information that is contained in LinkedIn’s private sections.

On Monday shares of Microsoft Corporation edged up by 0.03% to close the day at $73.22.

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