LinkedIn Users Lose Invasion-of-Privacy Case


     (CN) – A federal judge has dismissed a class action alleging that LinkedIn illegally disclosed browsing histories of users to advertisers.



     Lead plaintiffs Kevin Low and Alan Masand claimed in a 2011 that the website shared their browsing histories with “advertisers, Internet marketing companies, data brokers, web tracking companies, and other third parties.”
     The complaint in San Jose, Calif., says LinkedIn shares users’ profiles and their browsing history without permission.
     “This information gave the third parties the ability to correlate plaintiffs’ actual identities with their broader Internet browsing histories,” the amended complaint states. “Plaintiffs’ browsing histories include visits to websites that they consider private, including political, religious, and health-related websites. Had they known of these practices and been given the choice, plaintiffs would not have disclosed this information to the third parties. Plaintiffs were embarrassed and humiliated by the disclosure of their personally identifiable browsing history. Moreover, plaintiffs’ browsing histories and personal identities are valuable personal property with a market value.”
     U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh largely dismissed the complaint last week.
     LinkedIn did not act as a “virtual filing cabinet” and did not violate the Stored Communications Act, the 27-page decision states.
     The plaintiffs failed to show that LinkedIn was responsible for “a serious invasion of a privacy interest,” and they also could not prove the website was liable for breach of contract, false advertising, or any other claims related to the alleged use of their information by third parties.
     “Although plaintiffs theorize that third parties could de-anonymize this data, it is not clear that anyone has actually done so, or what information, precisely, these third parties have obtained,” Koh wrote.
     While the court dismissed eight claims with prejudice, it rejected LinkedIn’s claims that the class lacked standing.
     The plaintiffs cannot amend their complaint.

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