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LinkedIn Password Theft Results in Class Action Lawsuit: Privacy and Security Law Matters

Nearly as predictable as the sun coming up in the morning, the recent theft of 6.5 million LinkedIn user passwords has resulted in the filing of a class action lawsuit in a California federal court.  In her complaint, a LinkedIn premium subscriber asserts claims on behalf of all LinkedIn users for breach of implied and express contractual obligations, negligence and violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200.

Although the attack affected the passwords of just over 5% of LinkedIn’s approximately 120 million users, plaintiff purports to assert claims on behalf of all LinkedIn users.  Although plaintiff alleges classwide damages in excess of $5,000,000 (the jurisdictional threshold for federal court jurisdiction over the state law claims advanced in the complaint) it is unclear what damages plaintiff alleges that the class actually sustained by reason of merely losing passwords.  Some commentators have hypothesized that the propensity to use a single password for multiple online accounts could result in losses where non-LinkedIn accounts are accessed using an individual’s LinkedIn password.

Proving that such losses have occurred, however, would require highly individualized showings that would likely preclude adjudicating plaintiff’s claims as a class action.  Even less clear is what conceivable damages were allegedly sustained by LinkedIn users whose passwords were not stolen.  Thus, as with most privacy class actions, damages issues appear to pose the greatest obstacle to the success of the claims against LinkedIn.

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About this Author

Kevin McGinty Healthcare & Class Action Attorney Mintz Law Firm
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Kevin is an accomplished class action litigator with deep experience defending clients facing all types of class claims. He ably represents clients in consumer, contract, antitrust, unfair trade practice, tort, and employment class actions. Companies in diverse industries — including financial services, manufacturing, insurance, and retail — seek his assistance on complex litigation. A particular focus of his practice is representing healthcare-related companies in connection with False Claims Act cases, commercial disputes, privacy claims, and class actions.

Kevin concentrates in...

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