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Good news for academics, researchers, archivists, and journalists: As per a U.S. appeals court ruling, scraping publicly available data is legal.

The milestone ruling by the U.S. 9 th Circuit of Appeals is the most recent in the long run, with a legal battle carried out by LinkedIn intended to stop the opposing company from web scraping personal data from the users public profiles. This case moved to the U.S. Supreme Court in the previous year but was sent back to 9th Circuit for the original, appealing court for re-review.

In the second rule, the 9 th Circuit repeated its original decision and discovered that extracting publicly accessible data on the internet isnt a violation of the CFAA (Computer Fraud & Abuse Act) that governs what establishes computer hacking underneath U.S. law.

The decision of the 9 th Circuit is a big win for academics, researchers, archivists, and journalists that use tools for mass-collection or extracting information publicly available on the internet. Without any ruling, long- running projects for archiving sites are no longer online and utilizing publicly available data for research. Academic studies have been left at the legal midpoint.

Many companies like Instagram, Parler, Facebook, Clubhouse, and Venmo have scraped users data over the years! However, there have been egregious web scraping cases that have sparked security and privacy concerns. Clearview A.I., a facial recognition startup, claims to get billions of profile photos extracted from social media, inspiring many tech monsters to file complaints against this startup.

This case before the 9 th Circuit was formerly brought by the LinkedIn counter to HiQ Labs, a company that utilizes public data for analyzing employee attrition. Initially, LinkedIn lost this case against HiQ in 2019 after the 9th Circuit found that CFAA doesnt bar anybody from extracting publicly available data. According to LinkedIn, Hiqs bulk web extraction of LinkedIns user profiles was against the terms of services, amounted to a hack, and violated CFAA.

On the 2 nd hearing of this case, the 9 th Circuit said it depends on the Supreme Courts decision last June, where the Supreme Court first analyzed this decades-old act, CFAA. In its analysis, Supreme Court has narrowed what is founds as a violation of CFAA because those who get unauthorized access to the computer system — instead of a broader interpretation of surpassing current authorization that a court argued might have involved criminal penalties to "a huge amount of common computer activity." With a "gate-up, gate-down" similarity, the Supreme Court said that whenever a website or computers gates are up — and consequently, information is openly accessible — you dont need any authorization.

The 9 th Circuit, concerning Supreme Courts "gate-up and gate-down" analogy, governed that "the idea of without authorization wont apply to the public websites."

Greg Snapper, LinkedIns spokesperson, has stated they are disappointed with a courts decision. It is an initial ruling, and this case is far from getting over. He added that they would continue their fight to defend their members ability to control the data they make accessible on LinkedIn. It wont be okay if your information is used without permission and in ways you havent fixed it. He added that on LinkedIn, their members trust them with their details, which is why they forbid unauthorized web scraping services on their platform.