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Facebook Suspends Apps That Scrape Data From Its Platform Following Cambridge Analytica Scandal

September 20, 2019 Articles

Facebook announced today that it has suspended tens of thousands of apps from interoperating with the Facebook platform alleging misuse of Facebook members’ personal data. This is a continuation of the Cambridge Analytica saga that has plagued Facebook since the 2016 presidential election. Earlier this year, the FTC levied a record-breaking $5 billion fine on Facebook for its misuse of member personal information.

After announcing this recent round of app developer terminations, at least one app developer trapped in Facebook’s dragnet has cried foul and filed a complaint claiming that it did nothing wrong. Stating that it only uses publicly available information from Facebook and that Facebook had thoroughly vetted its application as part of its various partner programs, and arguing further that Facebook is a monopolist using "scorched earth” tactics, the app developer is demanding that it be allowed to continue accessing data from Facebook.

The new case is likely to build from the hiQ Labs v. LinkedIn precedent, in which hiQ Labs, a venture capital-backed app developer represented by Farella Braun + Martel, obtained a preliminary injunction preventing LinkedIn from terminating its access to LinkedIn member public profile information. hiQ raised sufficient questions as to whether LinkedIn could utilize the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, an anti-hacking statute from the eighties, to restrict hiQ's access to member profiles that the profile owner had expressly designated public. Furthermore, hiQ raised sufficient questions as to whether LinkedIn’s motives in terminating hiQ were anti-competitive and constituted an intentional interference with hiQ’s economic relationships. In light of these questions and the irreparable harm that LinkedIn’s actions would cause hiQ, the court enjoined LinkedIn to allow hiQ to continue accessing member public profiles on the LinkedIn platform.

The Ninth Circuit recently affirmed the injunction against LinkedIn. See opinion, here.

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