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People walking outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on June 10. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a lower court ruling on Monday that would have given companies and individuals broad scope in scraping information from online services.

Why it matters: In remanding the case between LinkedIn and hiQ back for further proceedings, the Supreme Court will give Microsoft, which owns LinkedIn, another chance to make the case that bulk collection of even publicly available data threatens individual privacy.

Catch up quick: LinkedIn argues that upstart rival hiQ shouldn't be able to scrape public profiles on its site to gather the vast amount of information it provides on people's work history and other business-related data.

  • A federal appeals had sided with hiQ, but Monday's ruling by the Supreme Court will send things back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Between the lines: The legal question is how broadly to apply the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which prohibits accessing a computer system without proper authorization.

My thought bubble: Technology has made questions around combining masses of public data a lot trickier.

  • "Public information" once meant you could access a particular record by visiting a government building.
  • Electronic databases have already changed the game, as has the emergence of data brokers who compile public records in new ways.
  • Mass scraping of data takes things a step further, enabling personal data to be combined, or even used to create and train algorithms. That's how Clearview is said to have used photos scraped from Facebook and Google to hone its facial recognition technology.

Go deeper: House antitrust bills take tight aim at tech giants

Go deeper

Court dismisses gun rights ruling for those under 21

Weapons on display at a gun shop in Manassas, Virginia. Photo: Yasin Ozturk / Anadolu Agency

A federal appeals court on Wednesday dismissed a July ruling that said laws restricting gun sales to those under 21 were unconstitutional because the case's plaintiff turned 21.

Why it matters: The previous ruling could have had implications for efforts to restrict gun sales nationally in the future, the Washington Post reported. But the case is now moot. 

Sep 22, 2021 - Health

Minority-serving institutions to help create pipeline for more diverse public health workforce

President Joe Biden speaks while meeting with Latino community leaders at the White House in early August. Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ten minority-serving higher-ed institutions will be awarded about $75 million to recruit and teach Black, Latino, Native American, AAPI and other students of color in public health professions to foster better representation in tackling future public health emergencies, the Biden administration will announce Wednesday.

Why it matters: Outdated technology infrastructure and messy data collection during the pandemic fueled misinformation and prevented real-time action for hardest-hit and highest-risk communities.

Updated 1 hour ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.