LINKEDIN HAS RECEIVED a small slap on the wrist from Ireland's Data Protection Commission (IDPC) over its usage of 18 million email addresses belonging to non-members of the world's biggest humblebrag website.
The report (PDF) doesn't explain how LinkedIn got hold of the 18 million email addresses but does explain what the company used them for: advertising the shirt-and-tie social network on its tee-shirt-and-jeans cousin Facebook. The company used a hashed form of the email addresses to target users of Facebook "with the absence of instruction from the data controller as is required."
In this instance, the data controller would be LinkedIn Ireland. Like many other companies in the build-up to GDPR becoming law, LinkedIn moved its data processing operation to the USA in order to "streamline" operations.
The report highlights that this complaint had a happy ending: "The complaint was ultimately amicably resolved, with LinkedIn implementing a number of immediate actions to cease the processing of user data for the purposes that gave rise to the complaint."
But this investigation prompted a second audit as the IDPC became "concerned with the wider systemic issues identified," specifically how "LinkedIn Corp was undertaking the pre-computation of a suggested professional network for non-LinkedIn members". The way LinkedIn suggests long-forgotten colleagues the second you sign up, in other words.
"As a result of the findings of our audit, LinkedIn Corp was instructed by LinkedIn Ireland, as data controller of EU user data, to cease pre-compute processing and to delete all personal data associated with such processing prior to 25 May 2018," the DPC report says. That date, if you didn't tattoo it across your chest earlier this year, is when GDPR came into force.
It's not just LinkedIn that gets a dressing down in the report. There's details of Yahoo's security breach, and an update on the still-ongoing investigations into Facebook; it's use of facial recognition and how much data is shared with WhatsApp. µ
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