U.S. 9th circuit court of Appeals ruled that web scraping public sites does not violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
US court confirmed that the logic behind the website scraping with bots is legally no different from the entry of the browser, as long as it requests open data. The decision was made during the trial of LinkedIn against hiQ Labs. HiQ gathered data from publicly available LinkedIn profiles and used them to consult employers until 2017. In 2017, LinkedIn claimed that the hiQ is violating the computer fraud and abuse act, or CFAA for short. HiQ sued LinkedIn to legalize web scraping and to ban the technical obstacles.
Fraud and abuse act does not apply to public information
The court of the first instance sided with hiQ in 2017, but the defendant decided to file an appeal. But the 9th circuit court of Appeals also agreed with the lower court. According to the decision, the computer fraud and abuse act do not apply to information available to the General public. The court also upheld a lower court ruling that prohibits LinkedIn from interfering with web scraping.
This decision may change many website owner’s behaviors against website scraping because most still believe that web scraping should be considered as theft. In many other countries, protecting the website against bots, including web scrapers, is considered legal. Another important question is whether web managers can use tools or any methods for preventing web scraping. If web scraping is legal, is it illegal to prevent web scraping?
Court decisions may differ according to the laws of the countries. so it’s best to talk to a legal advisor before web scraping or defending against it.