The Berlin Regional Court has delivered a verdict against the professional networking platform LinkedIn, putting restrictions on some of its data practices.
This legal action was initiated by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband, vzbv) and has now been made public after they reported successful outcomes in their lawsuit against LinkedIn Ireland Unlimited Company.
The court’s ruling specifically states that LinkedIn cannot disregard “Do Not Track” signals sent by users’ web browsers. These signals provide internet users with the option to opt out of having their online activities monitored.
Despite receiving these signals, LinkedIn continued to state on its website that it engages in tracking for analysis and marketing purposes. The court deemed this communication as misleading, emphasizing that LinkedIn is legally obligated to respect the Do Not Track requests.
As a result of this legal battle, LinkedIn is no longer permitted to declare on its website that it does not heed “Do Not Track” signals through which users object to the tracking of their browsing behavior via their browser settings.
The court has also prohibited the company from establishing a default “Profile Visibility” setting that would automatically make a member’s profile visible on other websites and applications.
This ruling follows a prior decision last year when the court partially banned LinkedIn from sending unsolicited emails to non-members and from imposing terms and conditions that forced users to waive certain legal rights.
“Do Not Track” (DNT) signals represent browser-level settings that enable users to express their objection to having their web-browsing behavior tracked. LinkedIn had previously displayed warnings on its website indicating that it did not respond to such DNT signals.
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According to Rosemarie Rodden, a legal officer at vzbv, “When consumers activate the “do-not-track” function of their browser, it sends a clear message: They do not want their surfing behavior to be spied on for advertising and other purposes. Website operators must respect this signal.”
The vzbv’s perspective is that LinkedIn acted against the wishes of its users, as personal data, including IP addresses and information related to website usage, can be used for analysis and marketing purposes, potentially accessible to third parties.
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