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LinkedIn pulls Facebook-style stunt

Privacy invasion by default

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LinkedIn has become the latest social networking site to decide that new features can be added and switched on by default, and users don’t have to be notified.

The feature allows LinkedIn to use profile information like names and photos in third-party advertising, and seems to have been first noticed by blogger Steve Woodruff here.

The feature – hidden away in the Orwellian-named “Manage Social Advertising” option – has to be switched off through a user’s account settings. Permission for this is tucked away in a new condition in LinkedIn’s Terms of Use, which makes it an opt-out feature.

Already, Radio Netherlands Worldwide has reported that the new profile setting may breach Dutch privacy law. The CBP, The Netherlands’ data protection agency, says the use of LinkedIn members’ photographs can only be used in advertising material with the users’ explicit consent.

The Radio Netherlands piece notes that the Dutch view is in line with that of the EU Data Protection Working Party, and also states that LinkedIn failed to properly notify users of the change. ®

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