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Customers sue LinkedIn, say company ‘hacked’ their external email for marketing contacts

Posted Sep 20, 2013 12:38 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Customers have sued LinkedIn Corp. in federal court in San Jose, Calif., contending that the professional networking company hacked into their external email accounts in order to obtain email addresses of contacts to which to market its services.

The suit seeks class action status and asks for a court order barring the alleged practice and disgorgement of profits, Bloomberg reports.

LinkedIn spokesman Doug Madey said that the lawsuit has no merit and that the company will fight it vigorously. “LinkedIn is committed to putting our members first, which includes being transparent about how we protect and utilize our members’ data,” Madey told Bloomberg via e-mail.

A Main Justice post provides additional details from the Tuesday complaint.

It contends that LinkedIn essentially stole email addresses of friends, associates and business adversaries, among others, then sent emails—including the name and sometimes the photo, of the LinkedIn customer—asking these third parties to join. The company never adequately disclosed this practice when asking customers for their personal email addresses, the suit says.

The alleged practices violated the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Stored Communications Act, several California state laws and the state's common-law right of publicity, the suit says.

Main Justice also did not receive an immediate response to its request for comment from LinkedIn.

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