LinkedIn Seeks Dismissal of Users’ Lawsuit Over E-Mail Hacking

LinkedIn Corp., which runs a 259 million-member network for professionals, asked a federal judge in California to dismiss a lawsuit accusing it of hacking into users’ address books to lure people to the site.

The suit is “meritless” because members consented to terms allowing LinkedIn to send invitations to their contacts, the company said in a filing in federal court in San Jose yesterday.

LinkedIn told U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh that “any reasonably prudent Internet user” would have understood the rights they conferred on the company when they clicked on buttons labeled “allow” and “add connections.”

The lawsuit is one of more than 200 alleging violation of privacy and other laws on the Internet in the past 18 months, according to law firm Alston & Bird LLP. LinkedIn users said in a September lawsuit that the so-called permission screens were unclear and the company’s repeated invitations to contacts including fellow board members, rival lawyers and old girlfriends caused embarrassment and could compromise their work.

Judge Koh refused to dismiss at least two previous cases partly on grounds that the terms of the companies’ online contracts weren’t clear and users may not have understood what rights they were giving up when they clicked on the boxes that asked them to consent to use of personal data.

The case is Perkins v. LinkedIn Corp., 13-cv-04303, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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