LinkedIn sued for leaking user data to ad men

Business-oriented social-networking site LinkedIn - motto: Relationships Matter - has been sued for violating users' privacy, in a suit filed with a Californian court

The site stands accused of handing advertisers information about its users. One user in particular, San Franciscan Kevin Low, is up in arms, claiming that Linked-In gave ad networks information that allowed them to follow him around the Internet with tracking cookies.

"Had he been given the choice, Mr. Low would not have disclosed his personally identifiable browsing history to third parties," Low's lawyers state in the suit. "Mr. Low was embarrassed and humiliated by the disclosure of his personally identifiable browsing history," the suit says.

Low is seeking class-action status for his suit, which would allow other user to join the legal battle. A LinkedIn spokesperson said the company would "defend ourselves vigorously,", claiming the suit has no merit.

Low claims that referrer headers sent to advertising networks and others by LinkedIn include a unique identifier that is used in conjunction with a persistent LinkedIn cookie. He says this violates U.S. federal wiretap laws as wall as a number of local California state laws. He claims the information allows his name to become known, in violation of LinkedIn's own privacy policy.

The suits seems to have been first reported on by mediapost.com, which notes that, according to the complaint, "Anyone who has used the Internet to discreetly seek advice about hemorrhoids, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation, mental health, dementia, etc., can be reasonably certain that these sensitive inquiries have been captured in the browsing history and incorporated into a personalized profile which will be packaged for sale to marketers," the suit alleges.