LinkedIn “Add Connections”

Issue: Unauthorized use of identity
Result: $13 million settlement
Year: 2016

Lieff Cabraser represented individual members of LinkedIn, the online business and social networking site, who without their consent or authorization had their names and likenesses used by LinkedIn in reminder emails to those members’ contacts asking that they join LinkedIn.

The complaint specifically challenged LinkedIn’s use of a service it called “Add Connections.” Add Connections allowed LinkedIn members to import contacts from their external email accounts and email connection invitations to one or more of those contacts inviting them to connect on LinkedIn. If an Add Connections invitation was not accepted within a certain period of time, up to two “reminder emails” were sent reminding the recipient that the Add Connections invitation was pending.

U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh found that while LinkedIn members initially consented to importing their contacts and sending the Add Connections invitation, members had not consented to LinkedIn sending the two subsequent reminder emails.

Court Grants Final Approval to Settlement

In mid-2015, the parties notified the Court that they had reached a settlement and, on February 16, 2016, the Court granted final approval to a $13 million settlement, one of the largest per-class member settlements in a digital privacy class action. Moreover, LinkedIn agreed to make significant changes to Add Connections disclosures and functionality. Specifically, LinkedIn revised disclosures to real-time permission screens presented to LinkedIn members using Add Connections, and implemented new functionality allowing LinkedIn members to manage their contacts, including viewing and deleting contacts and sending invitations, and to stop reminder emails from being sent if members inadvertently sent out Add Connections invitations to non-members.

The settlement class consists of LinkedIn members who used Add Connections between September 17, 2011 and October 31, 2014. The settlement amount constitutes one of the largest per-class member settlements in a digital privacy class action.

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