Technology

Library Groups Say LinkedIn Policy Changes Could Violate Users’ Privacy

By / Jul 24, 2019 (brightstars/iStock Unreleased/Getty Images Plus)

Library patrons have long had access to resources from Lynda.com, now known as LinkedIn Learning. But library organizations warn that a platform policy change could violate both patrons’ privacy and librarians’ ethics code.

The American Library Association is raising concerns about a policy change by a LinkedIn subsidiary, citing its potential impact on library patrons’ privacy.

The terms-of-use change would require users of the LinkedIn Learning platform, formerly known as Lynda.com, to have an account with the business-oriented social network. Until now, library patrons could access the courses with only a library card number, according to ZDNet.

In a news release, ALA said a requirement that library users disclose personally identifiable information runs counter to the association’s Library Bill of Rights, noting that “ALA has long affirmed that the protection of library users’ privacy and confidentiality rights are necessary for intellectual freedom and are fundamental to the ethical practice of librarianship.”

“The requirement for users of LinkedIn Learning to disclose personally identifiable information is completely contrary to ALA policies addressing library users’ privacy, and it may violate some states’ library confidentiality laws,” ALA President Wanda Kay Brown said in the release. “It also violates the librarian’s ethical obligation to keep a person’s use of library resources confidential.”

She called on “LinkedIn and its owner, Microsoft, to reconsider their position on this.” (Lynda.com was acquired by LinkedIn for $1.5 billion in 2015. Microsoft acquired LinkedIn the next year for $26.2 billion.)

Meanwhile, California State Librarian Greg Lucas urged libraries in the state to stop using the service, saying that under the new terms of use, “the user surrenders to LinkedIn the power to share the information contained in a user profile with whoever LinkedIn wants.”

And an official with the Connecticut Library Association suggested that LinkedIn was abusing its position as a resource in libraries to increase its subscriber count.

“LinkedIn is strategically taking advantage of technology novices, all the while fleecing money from limited library budgets,” said Samantha Lee, chair of CLA’s intellectual freedom committee, in a blog post.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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