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LinkedIn sued by users who say it hacked email accounts, stole contact lists

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Linkedin dropcloth
Linkedin dropcloth

A group of LinkedIn users are suing the social networking site for allegedly hacking into their email accounts. In a complaint filed in a San Jose federal court this week, the users accuse LinkedIn of accessing their email so the company can mine out a list of contacts and send spam-like emails. The suit claims that "Linkedln is able to download these addresses without requesting the password for the external email accounts or obtaining users' consent."

This, the complaint argues, is essentially hacking since "the users' email accounts and downloading of all email addresses associated with that users' account is done without clearly notifying the user or obtaining his or her consent." Once a contacts list has been siphoned from a users' email account, "endorsement emails" get sent out. "These endorsement emails contain the name and likeness of those existing users from whom Linkedln surreptitiously obtained the list of email addresses," the document explains.

It's not clear from the suit exactly how LinkedIn is allegedly hacking these email accounts. For example, the suit claims that the company "pretends" to be its users to download contact lists "if a LinkedIn user leaves an external email account open." Nonetheless, the social network is denying the accusations. "LinkedIn is committed to putting out members first, which includes being transparent about how we protect and utilize our members' data," the company says in a statement shared with AllThingsD. "We believe that the legal claims in this lawsuit are without merit, and we intend to fight it vigorously."