LinkedIn Intro – An Own Goal In Terms Of Privacy?

Last week LinkedIn released an iOS app that has caused quite the privacy debate online. ‘Intro’ allows users to route their emails through LinkedIn’s servers, and adds data to outgoing emails if it detects the intended recipient is a LinkedIn user.

There are obvious networking benefits to this, in that it will presumably give both parties a gentle nudge to connect on LinkedIn, but if you’re already emailing somebody in a professional capacity then the chances are that you’re probably going to connect with them eventually.

However, it seems that most people are focusing on the ‘hang on, you want to scan all of my emails?’ aspect of the situation. Given LinkedIn’s somewhat chequered past when it comes to data storage and security, many are saying that you’d be wise to think long and hard about using Intro. Last year LinkedIn was the victim of a very public hack in which 6.4 million user accounts were compromised. Just think how much more of a target it will now be if people are routing their emails through LinkedIn.

Even if things don’t go wrong, there are still some issues to consider when using Intro. For example, Attorney-client Privilege. Marcia Hoffman – former Senior Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation – reminds internet users that:

“If you let a third-party have access to your privileged email, you could be waiving important legal protections.”

Bishop Fox, The Verge and plenty of other sites are writing about all the reasons you wouldn’t want to use the app, while the network itself has written a blog post hoping to clarify some of the confusion that it believes has led to the negative press surrounding LinkedIn Intro.

At the end of the day, it will come down to how much you value your privacy. One thing that should be considered is just how important your own data is. If it is considered valuable by hackers, then it should be considered valuable by you too.

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