Tech CEOs Lobby Hard For A Federal Privacy Law; LinkedIn Loses Case Against Data-Scraper

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Obscura Procura

Airbnb is leading a $20 million investment in Atlas Obscura, a travel and local oddities media company. More than half of Atlas Obscura’s revenue already comes from the booking of trips and tour experiences, so it’s a natural strategic partnership. The site also has strong backers from previous rounds, including investments from A+E Networks, The New York Times, former DoubleClick chief Kevin Ryan, Business Insider co-founder Henry Blodget, Bustle Digital Group CEO Bryan Goldberg and New Atlantic Ventures, which invests in media-tech startups, such as the programmatic health media network PulsePoint. “What we have is a very powerful brand that is not dependent on the traditional lines of revenue that digital media has depended on,” Atlas Obscura CEO David Plotz tells The Wall Street Journal. More.

CEOs Vs. The States

Big tech isn’t the only contingent lobbying California lawmakers about the state’s new data-privacy law. Fifty-one CEOs, including from AT&T, Comcast and IPG, are calling for Congress to create a federal privacy law that would preempt state laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), MediaPost reports. The CEOs support an approach that defines “personal data” under the PII umbrella (information tied to an actual human, like a name or home address) rather than the broad definition of personal data under CCPA, which includes cookies and IP address. The group argues that a state-led approach to privacy legislation is bad for consumers, who “should not and cannot” be required to keep up with legal differences across state lines. “Now is the time for Congress to act and ensure that consumers are not faced with confusion about their rights and protections based on a patchwork of inconsistent state laws,” the CEOs wrote in a letter to both houses of Congress. More.

The Digital B&E

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a case brought by LinkedIn against hiQ, a third-party data vendor and analytics firm that services hiring and talent management teams. The decision centers on whether an internet company such as LinkedIn can prohibit web-scraping companies from gathering publicly accessible data. LinkedIn wants an injunction against hiQ for scraping profile data. The practice is against LinkedIn policy. (LinkedIn monetizes that data itself.) But, on the other hand, we’re talking about openly shared info that comes from account pages, Reuters reports. LinkedIn could stop hiQ from hoovering up the data, according to Judge Marsha Berzon, but only if it introduces safeguards so that other users and companies don’t see that info listed publicly. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the law in question in this case, explicitly compares violations to “breaking and entering” (like a computer or password being hacked), Berzon wrote in the decision. Scraping data from LinkedIn profiles that’s available to anyone with an internet connection does not meet those standards. More.

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