Web scraping may be perfectly legal

LinkedIn has been at the forefront of fighting the practice of entities collecting public user profile data from its platform. They’ve been at odds with a startup scraping such info from LinkedIn’s website, and have just lost an appeal against a preliminary junction protecting the right to web scraping publicly accessible data.

All this means that despite all the controversy and criticisms of collecting and possibly exploiting public website info, web scraping may in fact turn out to be OK from a legal standpoint.

I’ve been among the critics of web scraping, primarily because the data collected seems primarily for self-serving intentions, at the expense of user privacy. The company in the legal case against LinkedIn is a startup called hiQ, said to be using LinkedIn’s public user profile data to provide info to employers about the possible behaviors of their employees (whether or not they’re job searching).

If the right to web scraping ultimately does prevail, we may all have to re-evaluate how much of ourselves we want to make public on social media and other platforms. And that could include our very own web presences.