In January, LinkedIn began civil legal proceedings against hackers who had been “scraping” the personal details of its customers. The perpetrators allegedly created fake accounts to search the professional details of potential job candidates and used these details in their own recruitment businesses.
“By pilfering member data from the LinkedIn site, the defendants’ misconduct threatens to degrade the value of LinkedIn’s Recruiter product, which LinkedIn has invested substantially in over the years,” the company claimed. “On information and belief, the defendants, who have invested none of their own time and resources into developing and building the LinkedIn platform, have engaged in their scraping activities in an attempt to establish competing recruiting websites and usurp LinkedIn’s Recruiter product.”
The problem for LinkedIn was that it did not know who the individuals were. So its lawyers issued a so-called “John Doe” notice, which would allow the company to subpoena witnesses, demand documentation from internet service providers and effectively proceed with their civil case until it had enough evidence to fill in the names of the suspects.
The tactic worked. Shortly after LinkedIn filed suit, its lawyers amended the original complaint to contain the names of a two-year old company, HiringSolved, and its chief executive officer, Shon Burton. In July, both sides agreed to a judgement on consent.
While the actual details of the settlement are confidential, the court order proposed that HiringSolved pay LinkedIn a cash settlement of $40,000, delete all LinkedIn data, and remove any references to LinkedIn in its product platform, marketing materials and any other branding. HiringSolved would also remain in compliance with LinkedIn’s terms and conditions in the future.