LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) has publicly denied accusations that it hacked outside email accounts belonging to its users. In a class action lawsuit filed last week, a group of LinkedIn users alleged that that professional social network broke into external email accounts to access address books and send out marketing information.
In a blog post titled “Setting the Record Straight on False Accusations," Blake Lawit, the senior director of litigation at LinkedIn, says accusations directed at the network are completely false:
We do not access your email account without your permission. Claims that we “hack” or “break into” members’ accounts are false.
We never deceive you by “pretending to be you” in order to access your email account.
We never send messages or invitations to join LinkedIn on your behalf to anyone unless you have given us permission to do so.
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LinkedIn allows users to connect their email address to allow LinkedIn to send automatic invitations to join the network. The lawsuit claims that LinkedIn uses this information to hack the email account and extract email addresses.
"LinkedIn is able to download these addresses without requesting the password for the external email accounts or obtaining user' consent," the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit also accuses LinkedIn of being deceptive about this function and “provides no functional way to stop multiple subsequent advertising emails from being sent.”
LinkedIn says sending emails to contacts in a user’s address book is only done so by choice.
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages and requests LinkedIn return any money it has received by sending marketing information through a user’s contacts.