LinkedIn Hit By User Privacy Lawsuit

Another social networking site is back in court to face accusations it violated users’ privacy by leaking private information to third-party advertisers. The lawsuit may be new for LinkedIn, but it’s a situation, and a claim, we’ve seen before.

Another social networking site is back in court to face accusations it violated users’ privacy by leaking private information to third-party advertisers.  The lawsuit may be new for LinkedIn, but it’s a situation, and a claim, we’ve seen before.

The suit against LinkedIn addresses the site’s use of “referrer headers” to allegedly pass private information to advertisers, letting them know on which pages users clicked their ads, and sharing private data that could be used to identify the user personally.

In a class action suit filed last week in California, San Francisco resident Kevin Low alleges he was “embarrassed and humiliated by the disclosure of his personally identifiable browsing history,” as a result of LinkedIn’s use of referrer headers to enable third parties to discover his name and browsing history.

Low charges the social networking job search site violated its own privacy policy, which specifies the company does not reveal users’ names to advertisers without consent, in addition to federal wiretap laws and California state privacy laws.

As first reported by the advertising industry news site MediaPost, Low’s suit was filed last week with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

A spokesperson for LinkedIn told MediaPost that the suit ‘lacks merit’ and that it will defend itself “vigorously.”

LinkedIn’s fellow social network and competitor, Facebook, found itself in similar hot water just last year when it was sued over the same practice.

The suit against Facebook alleged the site’s use of referrer headers endangered users, citing the example of a hypothetical homosexual user:

“If a Facebook user who was gay and struggling to come out of the closet was viewing the Facebook page of a gay support group, and then clicked on an ad, the advertiser would know the exact identity of that person.”

Facebook denied the charges and recently filed papers asking the U.S. District Court in San Jose to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the claimants had suffered no tangible loss or damage as a result of its actions.

That motion, according to MediaPost, is still pending.



Publish date: April 1, 2011 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/linkedin-hit-by-user-privacy-lawsuit/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT
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