LinkedIn Goes After Anonymous Data Scrapers

LinkedIn is going after dozens of bots that it says unlawfully scraped user data.

As reported by TechCrunch, the professional social network last week filed suit in California district court, alleging that at least 100 people created fake LinkedIn profiles and used bots to gobble up as much data on user accounts as possible, in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

At this point, LinkedIn doesn't know the identity of the bot creators, so the lawsuit asks the court for permission to identify them and force them to delete data.

Since December 2015, "unknown persons and/or entities employing various automated software programs (often referred to as 'bots') have extracted and copied data from many LinkedIn pages," the lawsuit says. "To access this information on LinkedIn's site, the Doe Defendants circumvented several technical barriers employed by LinkedIn that prevent mass automated scraping, and have knowingly and intentionally violated various access and use restrictions in LinkedIn's User Agreement, which they agreed to abide by in registering LinkedIn member accounts. In so doing, they have violated an array of federal and state laws, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act."

LinkedIn has features in place that attempt to stop such bots in their tracks, but in some circumstances, it "whitelists" services to be able to access some data, like "reputable service providers, search engines, and other platforms so as to permit them to query and index the LinkedIn website, without being subject to all of LinkedIn's security measures," the lawsuit says. The bots in question issued data requests through a third-party cloud services provider that was whitelisted by the company.

The news come just weeks after Microsoft announced plans to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.

For more, check out How to Research Prospects and Leads on LinkedIn.

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