…o protect their data from malicious uses — I absolutely believe that their employees feel that way. But it is hard to take that argument seriously when, as in LinkedIn’s case, they make it while demanding that hiQ stop a long-permitted practice, and announcing their immediate intention to make money by selling exactly what hiQ currently sells.
I think this is the key reason why a lot of people are assuming this is business driven rather than principle driven from LinkedIn. I didn’t realize they were at the same time launching a quasi competitor to HiQ, and now that I do, it certainly makes that a reasonable read of the situation.
Overall — I think we are now mostly nodding in violent agreement.
What is tricky here is the definition of “public” and what a user really expects when they make their content “public” via a service like LinkedIn, Facebook, or really anywhere on the Internet. I think they still assume there is some reasonable set of controls and policies that help the hosting company fight for the user’s rights in the case of mis-use. This could be copyright rules, it could be CAN-SPAM type rules, and it could be these vaguer areas of one’s content being indexed and resurfaced or retargeted in other places.
Good point about why the preliminary injunction was the right thing to do here regardless of eventual outcome. I guess I do still believe the company that collected the information does have the responsibility to decide which features are ok to build around the user’s data and which would make users squeamish and support less. If LinkedIn prevents use cases like HiQ, one thing they can control, for example, is letting users opt-out of this type of product within their system, since LinkedIn is where users input the information and can control it. Letting it be scraped means users would have to know all of the other places that content lives and could also be accessed or used. All of these are reasons why I think sites like LinkedIn have the burden of responsibility to prevent mis-use and control the usage, and not just assume “the user wants this public so all unintended consequences count”.
But that is for the rest of the laws and courts and perhaps markets to decide. The point about “markets” though is a tricky one. HiQ could do great in the market, and if all the information it gets is scraped from LinkedIn and users find out and start reducing the data they put into LinkedIn, then HiQ has actually hurt LinkedIn in the market while they have market success. That’s not necessarily a fair decision for them to make, is it?