Plaintiff hiQ Labs’ business model involves providing information to businesses about their workforces based on statistical analysis of publicly available information on profiles of LinkedIn users. After several years of tolerating hiQ’s access and use of its data, defendant LinkedIn issued a cease and desist letter and attempted to block hiQ’s ability to access the profile information. In response, hiQ initiated a declaratory relief action alleging that LinkedIn’s actions constitute unfair business practices under Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq., and asserting common law tort and contract claims. The plaintiff also moved for a preliminary injunction allowing it to access LinkedIn profiles pending resolution of the dispute. On August 14, 2017, the Northern District of California granted the requested injunction, holding that:
The balance of hardships tips sharply in hiQ’s favor. hiQ has demonstrated there are serious questions on the merits. In particular, the Court is doubtful that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act may be invoked by LinkedIn to punish hiQ for accessing publicly available data; the broad interpretation of the CFAA advocated by LinkedIn, if adopted, could profoundly impact open access to the Internet, a result that Congress could not have intended when it enacted the CFAA over three decades ago. Furthermore, hiQ has raised serious questions as to whether LinkedIn, in blocking hiQ’s access to public data, possibly as a means of limiting competition, violates state law.
A link to the opinion may be found here: