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Hacking vs. Consent: Are LinkedIn Users Informed?

Various types of Internet crimes, namely hacking and Internet fraud, have become some of the fastest-growing crimes in New York and around the world. Recently, four LinkedIn users have filed a lawsuit against the popular business-oriented social networking site, claiming that their email accounts have been accessed without their permission. According to the plaintiffs’ claim, LinkedIn has been breaking into external email accounts by pretending to be the account owner, harvesting contact addresses and spamming those contacts with invitations to join the site.

The complaint offers no details about the assertion and the plaintiffs’ lawyer declined to comment on any details. However, the high-profile nature of this lawsuit has drawn an increasing amount of attention in the world of computer crimes, potentially subjecting those accused to greater levels of criticism and scrutiny in the future.

Just like many social networks, LinkedIn relies heavily on growth by referral, and the company asserts that it obtains full consent from all new users before reaching out to any of their contacts. However, if LinkedIn users believe themselves to be victims of the abuse of personal information, the dispute may need to play out to the end in a court of law.

This controversy highlights for website owners the importance of clearly explaining privacy laws to your users. If you do find yourself facing charges stemming from Internet hacking or other types of cybercrimes, the most important first step is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. With extensive knowledge in the areas of computer technology and the laws surrounding it, a good lawyer can help you navigate this complex area of the law as well as help you understand your rights and legal obligations under it.

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