U.S. Supreme Court revives LinkedIn bid to shield personal data

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday gave Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) LinkedIn Corp another chance to try to stop rival hiQ Labs Inc from harvesting personal data from the professional networking platform’s public profiles – a practice that LinkedIn contends threatens the privacy of its users.

The justices threw out a lower court ruling that had barred LinkedIn from denying hiQ access to the information that LinkedIn members had made publicly available.

At issue is whether companies can use a federal anti-hacking law called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which prohibits accessing a computer without authorization, to block competitors from harvesting or “scraping” vast amounts of customer data from public-facing parts of a website.

The justices sent the dispute back to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider in light of their June 4 ruling that limited the type of conduct that can be criminally prosecuted under the same law. In that case, the justices found that a person cannot be guilty of violating that law if they misuse information on a computer that they have permission to access. Reuters News

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