Thursday, July 27, 2017

Do Bots Have First Amendment Rights? We're About To Find Out

First Amendment, nah.
As the article points out that applies to government. This case is similar to a blogger blocking a commenter, you don't have a right to get on the platform, or as I've seen more than one person write:
Start your own damn website.

From Yahoo Finance:

LinkedIn's blocking of data-scraper's bots raises weighty 1st Amendment issues
In May, when lawyers for tech goliath LinkedIn warned a tiny data-scraping operation to stop gathering information from its members’ profiles, they probably didn’t realize they were teeing up a weighty legal conundrum over the “public square” characteristics of privately owned social media sites.
Yet because of the crucial role that data analytics now plays in society, a squabble of seemingly traffic-ticket dimensions has drawn world-class legal talent, with Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe enlisted in the data-miner’s defense, while former Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr., has been retained by LinkedIn, which was acquired by Microsoft (MSFT) last year for $26 billion.   
On Thursday the people analytics” startup known as hiQ Labs, which has built its whole business on data scoured from LinkedIn’s member profiles, will ask a federal judge in San Francisco to order its unwilling host to stop blocking its bots, citing federal and state constitutional free speech guarantees.
“Data analytics on public information is a foundation stone of the modern internet,” wrote Tribe and two other hiQ lawyers in a brief filed last week. They depict hiQ as following in the footsteps of such seminal web pioneers as Alta Vista, Excite, and Google.  “Without such technologies internet users would be unable to make sense of the billions of web pages that exist in this modern marketplace of ideas,” the brief continues. “To allow LinkedIn to impose debilitating financial and criminal liability on a startup for accessing public pages would have a widespread chilling effect on innovation across the country, and thereby thwart valuable commercial and academic research.”
In response, LinkedIn portrays the case as far simpler. LinkedIn “is a private entity with a right to control access to its private property and to decide how and to whom it will make information available from its servers as part of its business,” argue its lawyers, Verrilli and Jonathan Blavin, both of Munger Tolles & Olson. “hiQ has identified no plausible legal justification for the unprecedented relief it seeks—a mandatory injunction granting hiQ access to LinkedIn’s computers so that hiQ can . . . threaten the privacy … of LinkedIn’s members and the integrity of LinkedIn’s relationship with those members.” (LinkedIn earned $975 million in revenue for the first quarter of 2017.) 

‘The modern public square’
Because hiQ’s information-gathering activity informs its communications with clients, hiQ maintains that it is entitled to free-speech protection. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, however, ordinarily protects citizens only against government attempts to limit speech—not actions by private companies, like LinkedIn. For that reason, hiQ relies mainly on the free speech provision of the California state constitution, which has been found to afford protection even in certain quasi-public forums, like privately owned shopping malls....MORE