A federal judge has ordered that Microsoft’s LinkedIn network must allow a third-party company to scrape data publicly posted by LinkedIn users. Microsoft acquired the social networking site, LinkedIn, for $26 billion last year. LinkedIn has more than 400 million members and around 2 million paid subscribers, and its data access is critical for Microsoft, as it is for other companies. The Wall Street Journal reports Journal reports that the ruling is in a lawsuit brought by hiQ Labs, a startup that analyzes LinkedIn data to estimate whether workers are likely to leave their jobs. LinkedIn previously ordered hiQ Labs to stop scraping its data, and the startup fired back with a lawsuit.
A US District Judge has granted hiQ Labs with a preliminary sanction that provides access to LinkedIn data. LinkedIn argued that hiQ Labs violated the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by scraping data. The judge raised concerns around LinkedIn “unfairly leveraging its power in the professional networking market for an anticompetitive purpose,” and compared LinkedIn’s argument to allowing website owners to “block access by individuals or groups on the basis of race or gender discrimination.”
LinkedIn says it’s “disappointed in the court’s ruling,” in a statement. “This case is not over. We will continue to fight to protect our members’ ability to control the information they make available on LinkedIn.”