LinkedIn Unable to Prohibit hiQ Labs Inc. from Using Information on LinkedIn’s Member Profiles

Takeaway: HiQ Labs Inc. prevails in obtaining a preliminary injunction against LinkedIn enjoining LinkedIn from denying hiQ access to LinkedIn’s member profiles.

HiQ Labs Inc., a data analytics startup, used automated bots to scrape data from LinkedIn’s public member profiles. In 2017, LinkedIn sent the startup a cease and desist letter demanding that hiQ quit accessing and using the data on its member’s profiles. Following the cease and desist letter, hiQ filed suit against LinkedIn seeking injunctive relief based on the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), and California Penal Code § 502(c). A California federal court granted hiQ the injunction finding hiQ established a likelihood of irreparable harm because if the injunction did not issue, hiQ’s business model would be significantly jeopardized and it was in the interest of the public for the injunction to issue.

A three-judge panel affirmed the district court’s decision despite LinkedIn’s argument that hiQ’s practice threatened its users’ privacy stating, “[E]ven if some users retain some privacy interests in their information notwithstanding their decision to make their profiles public, we cannot, on the record before us, conclude that those interests … are significant enough to outweigh hiQ’s interest in continuing its business, which depends on accessing, analyzing, and communicating information derived from public LinkedIn profiles.”