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Kevin Low, Individually and On Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated v. Linkedin Corporation

November 11, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lucy H. Koh United States District Judge

United States District Court For the Northern District of California


Plaintiff Kevin Low ("Low" or "Plaintiff"), brings this putative class action against LinkedIn Corp. ("LinkedIn" or "Defendant") alleging that the personal information of the putative 19 class members, including "personally identifiable browsing history[ies]," were allegedly disclosed 20 by Defendant to third party advertising and marketing companies through the use of "cookies" or "beacons." Compl. at ¶¶ 15-16, March 29, 2011, ECF No. 1. Plaintiff alleges violations of the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq.; the California Constitution; the California 23 Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §17200 et seq.; the California False Advertising 24 Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §17500 et seq.; the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Cal. 25 Civ. Code §1750 et seq.; common law breach of contract; breach of implied covenant of good faith 26 and fair dealing; common law invasion of privacy; conversion; and unjust enrichment.

Before this 27 Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss. Def.'s Mot. To Dismiss at 1, June 17, 2011, ECF No. 13. 28

A hearing was held on September 15, 2011. For the foregoing reasons, the Defendant's motion to 2 dismiss is GRANTED with leave to amend.

presumed true for purposes of ruling on Defendant's motion to dismiss. Plaintiff brings this 6 putative class action on behalf of all persons in the United States who registered for LinkedIn 7 services after March 25, 2007. Compl. at ¶ 34. LinkedIn is a web-based social networking site that 8 presents itself as an online community offering professionals ways to network. Compl. at ¶ 3. 9


Unless otherwise noted, the following allegations are taken from the Complaint and are Plaintiff alleges that LinkedIn allows transmission of users' personally identifiable browsing 10 history and other personal information to third parties, including advertisers, marketing companies, 11 data brokers, and web tracking companies, in violation of federal and state la ws and in violation of LinkedIn's privacy policy.

14 related to the transmission of users' information to third parties. First, LinkedIn assigns each 15 registered user a unique user identification number. Compl. at ¶ 14. Then, LinkedIn's website 16 links and transmits the user ID number to third party tracking IDs ("cookies"). Compl. at ¶ 15. 17

These practices allow third parties to track the LinkedIn users' online brower histories and allow 18 them to aggregate data. Compl. at ¶ 19. Plaintiff alleges that "LinkedIn's role in this process is to 19 add 'social' information such as the name of each user and the other LinkedIn profiles they view 20 and interact with, to the otherwise potentially anonymous tracking process." Compl. at ¶ 15. The 21 information is disclosed to third parties each time the member logs in and views pages on the LinkedIn website by transmitting the HTTP Referer header, and adding the user ID as a "URL 23 parameter" when the request is transmitted to the third party. Compl. at ¶ 16. Plaintiff alleges that "merely logging in and looking at a profile page caused LinkedIn to transmit the user ID bundled 25 with that site's tracking cookie ID" to third parties. Compl. at ¶18.

Plaintiff alleges that this practice allows third parties to view a user's browser history, 27 including potentially sensitive information that may be gathered based on a user's prior searches.

The Complaint sets forth allegations regarding LinkedIn's general policies and practices Compl. at ¶ 13. Moreover, Plaintiff alleges that these practices violate several parts of LinkedIn's privacy policy, including the provision that states that "We do not sell, rent or otherwise provide [user's] personal identifiable information to any third parties for marketing purposes." Compl. at ¶ 24.

Low alleges that he is a registered user of LinkedIn. Although it is ambiguous from the 5 face of the complaint, Plaintiff's counsel clarified at the hearing that Low has not paid money for 6 the services LinkedIn provides. Low alleges that LinkedIn transmitted his LinkedIn user 7 identification to third parties, "linking [his personal identity] to [the third party's] secretly 8 embedded tracking device that surreptitiously recorded Mr. Low's internet browsing history."

Compl. at ΒΆ 2. As a result "he was embarrassed and humiliated by the disclosure of his personally 10 identifiable browsing history;" that his personally identifiable browsing history is valuable personal For the Northern District of California property; and that he "relinquished his valuable personal property without the ...

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