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LinkedIn Says Users Agreed to|Let It Siphon Email Contacts

(CN) - LinkedIn urged a judge to toss claims that it sucked up users' email contacts and spammed them, saying members gave the business-networking site permission to do so and were perhaps "embarrassed" by it later.

The company faces a federal class action in San Francisco accusing it of hacking into users' external email accounts and extracting email addresses, which it then barrages with promotional spam.

Users accused the company of violating California laws on publicity rights and unfair competition, the Stored Communications Act, the Wiretap Act and state penal code.

In a motion to dismiss filed Friday, LinkedIn said "every one of these claims is groundless as a matter of law and should be dismissed."

It claims users consented to the challenged actions by using LinkedIn's "Add Connections" tool, which allows members to import email addresses from external accounts.

"Plaintiffs acknowledge that LinkedIn members must click through a series of permission screens when using Add Connections," LinkedIn says. "Any reasonably prudent Internet user who reviewed these screens would understand that, by clicking buttons labeled 'Allow' and 'Add Connections,' they were consenting to the challenged actions."

Though users claimed these permission screens were deceptive, LinkedIn claims the lead plaintiffs failed to specify how.

"[T]hey do not allege what screens they saw, how they were supposedly deceived by the screens, and what actions they took in reliance on them," the motion states. (Emphasis in original.)

LinkedIn further argued that the plaintiffs lack standing or failed to sufficiently state their claims under California's laws on publicity rights and unfair competition, and its penal code.

The false accusation that LinkedIn "hacked into" users' emails is not only "conclusory and baseless," but also "highly prejudicial," the company claims.

"Whether class members misunderstood Add Connections permission screens, or were embarrassed by a connection invitation, are individualized issues that preclude class treatment of plaintiffs' claims," the company argues.

It urged U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose to dismiss the lawsuit and strike the class allegations.

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