LinkedIn has denied accusations that it inappropriately breaks into its users’ external email accounts just to ‘unethically harvest’ contact addresses. The social networking site for professionals reiterated that it does not send emails to users’ contacts without proper and voluntary permission.
In a statement, the Website asserted that it does not access users’ email accounts without permission. It emphasized that it has not deceived people by pretending to be its users so that it could access email accounts and send out invitations for more people to try joining its network.
It added that it does not send messages especially invitations on users’ behalf unless given adequate permission by users to do so. LinkedIn is accused by some members of breaking into email accounts to ‘harvest’ contacts’ addresses so it could send out more invitations.
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LinkedIn is currently facing a class action lawsuit from four of its users, namely, Paul Perkins, Ann Brandwein, Erin Eggers, and Pennie Sempell. The complainants claim that the professional networking site has hacked their external email accounts to download addresses of their personal contacts. They alleged that LinkedIn does so for repeated promotions of its services.
The legal complaint charges LinkedIn of breaking into third party email accounts, downloading email addresses in the contact list, and sending out numerous emails on behalf of the users. The four complainants insist that they did not authorize the Website to do so.
The complaint was filed before the US District Court for Northern District of California last week. The complainants also pointed out in the complaint that LinkedIn asks its new users to provide their external email addresses to the network without actually making disclosure about the purpose of doing so.
Asking for damages
The four users claim that if LinkedIn users leave their external email accounts open, LinkedIn would get in and pretend to be the user so it could access addresses and send messages to contacts. But the complainants did not explain how the Website is able to download email addresses without providing the right passwords.
Lastly, the complaint underlined that LinkedIn does not inform users that all email addresses it has harvested would be used for sending multiple emails to invite recipients to sign up for the network. Worse, the site allegedly uses users’ supposed endorsement so that email recipients would somehow be enticed to take action. The complainants are asking for settlement of damages and for prohibition for LinkedIn to continue its ‘unethical and unlawful acts.’