Tesla CEO Elon Musk

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A federal judge in California has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Elon Musk’s X against Israel’s Bright Data in a case involving the exhaustion of public online data and its appropriate uses.

X, formerly Twitter, is suing Bright Data, alleging that the company “deletes data from X” and sells it “using sophisticated technical measures to avoid X Corp.’s anti-deletion technology.” X also claims the company violated its terms of service and copyright.

Data mining occurs when automated programs crawl publicly accessible websites to collect data that can later be used for a wide range of purposes, including training artificial intelligence models and targeting online ads. The practice is generally legal in the US when it involves depleting publicly available data, according to a 2022 a decision that ended a lengthy legal battle involving LinkedIn.

X is seeking more than $1 million in damages from unknown defendants for “unlawful deletion of data related to Texas residents,” according to the casewhich was filed in Dallas County.

Dismissing the complaint, Judge William Alsup wrote: “X Corp. wants it both ways: to maintain its safe harbors while exercising a copyright owner’s right to exclude, extorting fees from those who seek to extract and copy the content of X’s users.”

Giving social networks complete control over the collection and use of public web data “risks the possible creation of information monopolies that would harm the public interest,” the judge wrote. He added that X does not “seek to protect the privacy of X users” and is “happy to allow the extraction and copying of X users’ content as long as it is paid for.”

A representative for X did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meta previously filed a complaint against Bright Data and was also unsuccessful.

Bright Data said in an emailed statement that its victories against Meta and X show that public information online “belongs to all of us, and any attempt to deny public access will fail.”

“What’s happening now is unprecedented, with implications across business, research, AI and beyond,” the company said.

Bright Data says it only deletes publicly available data that is visible to anyone without registration. During the filing of the lawsuit, X made the information exhausted by Bright Data available to anyone.

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