Internet Spying? Judge Throws Out Privacy Lawsuit Against LinkedIn

A California man claimed that LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) “humiliated” him by sharing his Internet browsing history with marketers. In a big win for the professional social networking site, a federal judge found that the man couldn’t go forward with the suit because he hadn’t been harmed—financially, emotionally or otherwise. The case is yet another episode in courts’ ongoing efforts to decide what individual privacy is worth.

In a ruling handed down late Friday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh dismissed the suit after finding that Kevin Low didn’t have standing to bring a $5 million class action lawsuit that was filed last March in San Francisco on behalf of all U.S. LinkedIn users. The judge found that, since Low had not suffered any actual harm, he did not meet the “case or controversy” threshold that the Constitution requires for a federal lawsuit to go forward.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Squelches ‘Friend Finder’ Class Action

LinkedIn is a fast-growing website that allows people to post their professional profiles and to network with other users. Low claimed the site violated federal and state privacy laws by combining his LinkedIn identification number with his browsing history (a list of websites he visited) and then selling the packaged information to market research companies like Nielsen Netratings and Scorecard Research.

In her decision, Judge Koh quotes Low’s claim that people who “‘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 sent to third parties to be exploited.” But she also found that Low could not prove the humiliation he claimed because he could not point to any specific information about his web browsing that LinkedIn had shared with third parties.

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