Microsoft’s LinkedIn loses appeal over access to user profiles

LinkedIn’s effort to stop a San Francisco company has been rejected by an appeals court. (AFP)
Updated 09 September 2019

Microsoft’s LinkedIn loses appeal over access to user profiles

  • The 3-0 decision by the San Francisco appeals court sets back Silicon Valley’s battle against “data scraping,”
  • LinkedIn said it was disappointed with the decision and evaluating its options

A federal appeals court on Monday rejected LinkedIn’s effort to stop a San Francisco company from using information that users of the professional networking website have deemed public.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals let stand an August 2017 preliminary injunction that required LinkedIn, a Microsoft Corp. unit with more than 645 million members, to give hiQ Labs Inc. access to publicly available member profiles.
The 3-0 decision by the San Francisco appeals court sets back Silicon Valley’s battle against “data scraping,” or extracting information from social media accounts or websites, which critics say can equate to theft or violate users’ privacy.
Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon said hiQ, which makes software to help employers determine whether employees will stay or quit, showed it faced irreparable harm absent an injunction because it might go out of business without access.
She also said giving companies such as LinkedIn “free rein” over who can use public user data risked creating “information monopolies” that harm the public interest.
“LinkedIn has no protected property interest in the data contributed by its users, as the users retain ownership over their profiles,” Berzon wrote. “And as to the publicly available profiles, the users quite evidently intend them to be accessed by others,” including prospective employers.
In a statement, LinkedIn said it was disappointed with the decision and evaluating its options, and will “fight to protect our members and the information they entrust” to it.
Lawyers for hiQ did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The case was returned to US District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco, who issued the injunction.
Craigslist, the classified ad website, had supported LinkedIn’s appeal, warning that the injunction could have a “dangerous impact” by making it easier for “bad actors” to find targets for unwanted email, text or phone-based marketing.
Berzon said, however, hiQ had raised serious questions about LinkedIn’s conduct, including whether it could invoke a federal law targeting computer fraud and abuse to block “free riders” from accessing user data.
“Of course, LinkedIn could satisfy its ‘free rider’ concern by eliminating the public access option, albeit at a cost to the preferences of many users and, possibly, to its own bottom line,” she wrote.
Gregory Garre, a former US solicitor general under President George W. Bush representing craigslist, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Donald Verrilli, a solicitor general under President Barack Obama, represented LinkedIn. Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe was one of hiQ’s lawyers.
 


Oman said to mull new regional airline

Updated 22 October 2019

Oman said to mull new regional airline

DUBAI: Oman is considering setting up a new regional airline that could take over domestic operations from state carrier Oman Air, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

A request for proposal was issued this month by state entity Oman Aviation Group for a feasibility study into operating the new airline, “Oman Link,” the sources said.

Setting up a new airline for domestic flights would allow Oman Air to focus on its international network where it competes with large Gulf carriers Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad Airways.

The new airline could partner with Oman Air with both carriers connecting passengers to each other but would have its own independent management, the sources said on the condition of anonymity because the details are private.

Proposals are to be submitted by Nov. 11, one of the sources said.

The new airline would use regional jets for domestic flights and potentially later to other cities in the region where there is not enough demand to fill the larger single aisle jets used by other airlines in Oman.

FASTFACT

Oman Air operates flights to four airports in the country, including the main Muscat International.

Oman Aviation Group and its unit Oman Air did not respond to separate emailed requests for comment.

Oman Air operates flights to four airports in the country, including the main Muscat International, according to its website.

The airline uses 166-seat Boeing 737 jets and 71-seat Embraer E175 aircraft on domestic and regional flights.

Both aircraft types are too costly to consistently operate domestic routes at a profit, according to industry sources.

Oman has been restructuring its aviation sector in recent years. Oman Aviation Group was formed in 2018 and includes Oman Air, Oman Airports and Oman Aviation Services.

A budget, second airline, Salam Air, was launched in 2017. It is owned by Omani government pension funds and the Muscat municipality.

Last week, Eithad and Air Arabia said they were jointly setting up a low cost carrier in Abu Dhabi.