An American start-up called HiringSolved used an army of scraper bots in order to copy data from LinkedIn. HiringSolved sells subscriptions to recruiters for $799 and have recently been profiled in Business Insider.
LinkedIn filed a lawsuit in January where they alleged that someone was creating multiple fake profiles in order to create connections to real users of LinkedIn. By building connections they were able to siphon other professional profiles and collect data. LinkedIn has now identified who is behind the scraper bot attacks and it turns out to be HiringSolved, a competitor with a similar business model.
HiringSolved is founded by Shon Burton and experts have been saying that the company can become a great competitor to LinkedIn in the future.
LinkedIn was able to identify Burton by collecting IP addresses associated with scraper bots that was tied to multiple illegitimate profiles. By connecting traced IP addresses to a “well-known cloud computing platform” LinkedIn could tie them to the residence that Burton owned in San Fransisco thanks to billing records.
LinkedIn claims that using scrapers bots for stealing data is a breach of contract and a definitive violation of copyright and hacking laws. LinkedIn does also describe that scraper bots was continuously adapted to bypass a variety of measures that was put in place to stop others from scraping their data. Damage has been done to LinkedIn and they are now seeking damages and an injunction against Burton and HiringSolved.
Burton still argues that he hasn’t done anything illegal. In an email to GIGAOM he said:
“I can say that we do not believe we have done anything illegal. HiringSolved is in a new class of business tools called “People Aggregators” and it is considered to be one of the best in class”.
HiringSolved isn’t the only company that have attempt to scrape data from LinkedIn. Sell Hack, a grey-shadow company, offered until recently a plug-in that reveals every LinkedIn users real email address.
LinkedIn said in a statement that they want to provide members with control over the information they make available on LinkedIn. They will keep on preventing others from taking away this control by scraping profiles of their members without permissions. For those that don’t follow the rules LinkedIn will take aggressive action in order to stop them and hold them accountable.