So you’re considering changing jobs and quietly make a couple of changes to your LinkedIn profile to ensure it is looking its best for any potential new employer.
But then a third-party service spots that change and alerts your bosses. Uh oh. That’s the scenario LinkedIn has said it is trying to stop being possible. But a judge in San Francisco has just ruled it can do little to stop third-party companies monitoring LinkedIn’s huge trove of data.
LinkedIn must remove any technical limitations it has put in place to prevent the “scraping” of members’ data, the court ruled. The BBC understands LinkedIn is considering an appeal.
LinkedIn has been told it must remove technical measures that prevent bots scraping the site
“This case is not over. We will continue to fight to protect our members’ ability to control the information they make available on LinkedIn.”
The case sets an interesting precedent over how the data you publish online can be monitored and used.
The row began in May when LinkedIn sent HiQ Labs a cease and desist letter demanding it stop trawling LinkedIn’s public profiles for data – something that takes place, according to HiQ’s website, roughly every two weeks.
HiQ Labs offers what it describes as “a crystal ball that helps you determine skills gaps or turnover risks months ahead of time, and a platform that shows you how and where to focus your efforts”.
The firm does not monitor every LinkedIn user – just those working for companies that have engaged HiQ Lab’s services. The company told me it also does not offer a service that alerts bosses about an individual’s profile changes.
LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, said using its data in this way – to predict when staff might leave – was a breach of the site’s terms of service and also potentially of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
“This is not acceptable,” Linkedin’s letter read.
But HiQ Labs, via a special section of its site set up to discuss the case, has dismissed LinkedIn’s claims of abuse. It said that as the profile information is public, and viewable without being logged in, it should not be “walled off”.