Linked In settles privacy class action

October 6, 2015 |

The Itnews reports in LinkedIn to pay $18.3m in email class action settlement that there has been a settlement of a class action against Linked In arising from its practice of accessing email accounts of users and sending invitation to their contacts without prior or any consent.   The article provides:

Networking site LinkedIn has agreed to pay US$13 million (A$18.3 million) to customers for sending out emails on their behalf. 

The company over the weekend began advising [pdf] customers of the settlement, which comes as part of a class-action lawsuit over emails sent from user accounts.

The lawsuit alleged LinkedIn accessed user accounts without their permission and used their names to send connection invitations to contacts imported from their external email accounts.

LinkedIn at the time labelled the accusations false, and a court later found that LinkedIn members had given the company permission to send the email invitations.

But it also found that users had not consented to two follow up ‘reminder’ emails about the invitations, sent by LinkedIn on their behalf.

LinkedIn said it continues to deny any wrongdoing, but has advised users it had agreed to pay US$13 million to affected users, and would additionally made changes to its privacy and product policy.

The settlement has been agreed to by the lawyers of the class action plaintiffs but has not yet been officially approved.

The US$13 million will be distribruted pro rata, which means the amount each individual gets is dependent on the total number of approved claims.

If the payout ends up amounting to less than US$10 per person, LinkedIn will have to fork out an additional US$750,000 into the fund, it said.

Those eligible include users who were members of its ‘add connections’ program from September 2011 to October 2014. Users can apply to be part of the compensation package here.

Alongside the monetary settlement, LinkedIn said it would implement new functionality by the end of the year that would allow members to stop reminders from being sent by cancelling the connection invitation.

It will also display a disclosure notice when users send connection invitations, advising them that LinkedIn will send two reminder emails to the recipient.

It is reported in the Australian media in the Business Insider Australia under LinkedIn might have to pay you money for spamming your email contacts and in Fortune with LinkedIn will pay $13M for sending those awful emails.  The headlines of those articles illustrate the reputational damage to a company involved in a privacy related class action.  LinkedIn does not relish being described as a spammer.
In the Australian context there is some scope under the Privacy Act for a group to seek compensation for a privacy breach under section 25A.  It is necessary for a civil penalty order to have been made under any provision other than section 13G which deals with repeated or serious interferrences with privacy or that an agency or organisation has been found guilty of a a Credit Reporting Provision of the Act. It is quite limited.  A better approach may be to rely on equity or, having regard to the attitude being taken by ASIC under the Corporations Act.

The original notice of a settlement provided:

If you paid a fee to LinkedIn for a premium subscription at any time between March 15, 2006 and June 7, 2012, a class action settlement may affect your rights.

A settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit against LinkedIn, which operates a professional networking service (website at www.linkedin.com). The class action lawsuit involves claims that LinkedIn did not adequately protect the passwords and personal information of the users of its premium services.

You are included if you are an individual or entity in the United States who paid a fee to LinkedIn for a premium subscription at any time between March 15, 2006 and June 7, 2012.

If you are included in the settlement and can attest that you were influenced by LinkedIn’s statements in its User Agreement or Privacy Policy about its security when you signed up for a LinkedIn premium subscription, you are eligible to submit a claim for up to $50 from a $1,250,000 Settlement Fund, after payment of the costs of administering the settlement and any award of reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses and plaintiff’s incentive award approved by the Court.

Your legal rights are affected whether you act, or don’t act.

YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OPTIONS IN THIS SETTLEMENT
SUBMIT A CLAIM FORM The only way to receive a payment. Deadline: May 2, 2015
EXCLUDE YOURSELF You will receive no payment, but you will retain any rights you currently have to sue LinkedIn about the claims in this case. Deadline: April 13, 2015
OBJECT Write to the Court explaining why you don’t like the settlement. Deadline: April 13, 2015
ATTEND A HEARING Ask to speak in Court about the fairness of the Settlement. Deadline: April 13, 2015
DO NOTHING You won’t get a share of the settlement benefits and will give up your rights to sue the LinkedIn about the claims in this case. N/A

These rights and options—and the deadlines to exercise them—are explained in the Notice.

The Court in charge of this case still has to decide whether to approve the settlement. Payments will be provided only after any issues with the settlement are resolved. Please be patient.

One Response to “Linked In settles privacy class action”

  1. Linked In settles privacy class action | Australian Law Blogs

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