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LinkedIn Lawsuit Regarding Email Privacy Okayed by California Judge, Moves Forward

LinkedIn is going to court, and they’re going to have to answer for their alleged violation of client privacy rights, says Judge Lucy H. Koh of San Jose, California. According to the lawsuit against LinkedIn, the company has been using external email accounts — which is private information — and using this information for marketing purposes.

The class action lawsuit details that, while many individuals consent to a one-time endorsed email sent to their contacts, that consent isn’t enough to justify LinkedIn’s automatically sent reminder messages that occur if someone does not accept the invitation. Koh says that this could have the effect of damaging professional reputations, as it can give others the impression that someone can’t “take the hint” and are comfortable with spamming their contacts.

Koh adds that, in addition to this, LinkedIn’s practice of emailing contacts multiple times could be in disagreement with LinkedIn’s own statements regarding privacy. “By stating a mere three screens before the disclosure regarding the first invitation that ‘We will not … email anyone without your permission,’ LinkedIn may have actively led users astray,” Koh explains regarding her decision to let the lawsuit move forward. She also chose to dismissed several additional claims, such as one alleging that LinkedIn violated federal law regarding wiretapping.

Larry Russ, LinkedIn’s lawyer, has not yet responded for requests for comment; neither has LinkedIn. They could potentially be sued both for unauthorized use of likenesses and names for commercial intent, as well as for violating an unfair competition law in California. The lawsuit seeks to both put a stop to inappropriate email data harvesting, as well as collect damages for those affected.

While LinkedIn might be receiving criticism for its privacy concerns, they have overall been faring well recently. The social networking company has about 300 million active users, as well as a planned expansion into the Chinese market. According to many businesses, LinkedIn provides useful data and leads, often more successfully than other networks.

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