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District Court settles data scraping lawsuit

Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Courts Data Scraping Settlement

Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

On May 9, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a final judgment on consent resolving a lawsuit concerning data scraping allegations. A professional networking site (plaintiff) sued a Singapore-based company and three company founders (collectively, “defendants”) claiming the defendants violated the terms of the plaintiff’s user agreement by gaining unauthorized access to areas of the plaintiff’s platform that are only accessible to real logged-in members, scraping millions of member profile pages, and using fake member accounts and prepaid virtual debit card numbers to fraudulently obtain access to a function that provides advanced features. In alleging claims for breach of contract, fraud and deceit, and misappropriation, among others, the plaintiff claimed the defendants’ activities defrauded it out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. According to the court’s judgment, the defendants have agreed to be permanently restrained and barred from engaging in the aforementioned activities, including using scraping to access the plaintiff’s data, engaging in marketing and advertising about the availability of user data on the defendant’s website, circumventing any technological measures that control access to the plaintiff’s servers, and transferring data to third parties. “Defendants represent that they have destroyed all [plaintiff] member profile data, whether stored in electronic form or otherwise, in their possession, custody, or control and have certified in writing that they have done so,” the judgment stated. While the judgment did not include a monetary penalty, the court noted that violation of the final judgment or consent shall expose the defendants and all other persons bound by the final judgment on consent “to all applicable penalties, including contempt of Court.”

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