US Ninth Circuit Court Reaffirms Ruling: Web Scraping is Legal

April 18, 2022: 

The US Ninth Circuit Court reaffirmed its original decision in  HiQ Labs, Inc v LinkedIn Corp in an interim ruling on Monday April 18, 2022. The court granted hiQ’s request for a preliminary injunction and stated that scraping data that is publicly accessible on the internet is not a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or CFAA, which governs what constitutes computer hacking under U.S. law.

Summary of original case

Case Summary

The case before the Ninth Circuit was first brought by LinkedIn against Hiq Labs in 2017. Hiq Labs is a company that uses public data to analyze employee attrition. LinkedIn claimed Hiq’s mass web scraping of LinkedIn user profiles was against its terms of service, amounted to hacking and was therefore a violation of the CFAA. In 2019, the Ninth Circuit found that the CFAA does not bar anyone from scraping data that’s publicly accessible.

LinkedIn appealed the decision, following which the case was sent back to the Ninth Circuit. In its ruling on Hiq’s request for a preliminary injunction, the Ninth Circuit said it relied on a Supreme Court decision last June, where a “gate-up, gate-down” analogy was used by the Supreme Court. When a computer or website’s gates are up, argued the court, and information is publicly accessible, no authorization is required.

Learn more about the ruling here. 

Bottom Line

  1. The court reaffirmed for a second time that Hiq was acting within their legal rights to collect publicly available data on which their business model is reliant.
  2. The court argued that collecting publicly accessible data did not require authorization under CFAA guidelines. 

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