The LinkedIn Lawsuit Is a Step Forward But Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Post Syndicated from Bradley M. Kuhn original

Years ago, I wrote a blog post about how
I don’t
use Google Plus, Google Hangouts, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn or
other proprietary network services
. I talked in that post about how
I’m under constant and immense social pressure to use these services.
(It’s often worse than the peer pressure one experiences as a teenager.)

I discovered a few months ago, however, that one form of this peer
pressure was actually a product of nefarious practices by one of the
vendors — namely Linked In. Today, I learned
a lawsuit
is now proceeding against Linked In
on behalf of the users whose contacts
were spammed repeatedly by Linked In’s clandestine use of people’s address

For my part, I suppose I should be glad that I’m “well
connected”, but that means I get multiple emails from Linked In
almost every single day, and indeed, as the article (linked to above)
states, each person’s spam arrives three times over a period of weeks. I
was initially furious at people whom I’d met for selling my contact
information to Linked In (which of course, they did), but many of them
indeed told me they were never informed by Linked In that such spam
generation would occur once they’d complete the sale of all their contact
data to Linked In.

This is just yet another example of proprietary software companies
mistreating users. If we had a truly federated Linked-In-like service,
we’d be able to configure our own settings in this regard. But, we don’t
have that. (I don’t think anyone is even writing one.) This is precisely
why it’s important to boycott these proprietary solutions, so at the very
least, we don’t complacently forget that they’re proprietary, or
inadvertently mistreat our colleagues who don’t use those services in the

Finally, the lawsuit seems to focus solely on the harm caused to Linked In
users who were embarrassed professionally. (I can say that indeed I was
pretty angry at many of my contacts for a while when I thought they were
choosing to spam me three times each, so that harm is surely real.) But
violation CAN-SPAM
by Linked In should also not be ignored and I hope someone will
take action on that point, too.