MISC. 20


LinkedIn’s User Agreement and Privacy Policy receive average or below average scores in each of our categories. It scores poorly in Data Use because it grants itself very extensive rights to the personal information that its users contribute to its platform. Although LinkedIn does a good job of responding to government requests for user data, we would like to see more protection for users built into these agreements.

Data Use

Like many of the other companies surveyed, LinkedIn’s User Agreement grants it extensive rights with respect to user submitted content. Although you continue to own the information you submit, the license effectively allows the company to do anything it wants, including “using and commercializing” your information “in any way now known or in the future discovered”. Many of the other companies surveyed also have very broad data use provisions. At the very least, LinkedIn should adopt Google’s approach and limit itself to using data for purposes related to the services that it provides.

We would also like to see the terms of the license vary according to the type of content. The current license picks up not only the contents of your public LinkedIn profile, but also private messages you send to other users. Many users would be surprised to learn that LinkedIn has the right to publish and commercialize their private messages.

SCORE: 10 / 25
  • LinkedIn can do pretty much anything it wants with content you submit

Data Disclosure

LinkedIn has the right to disclose user information in four circumstances: (1) to comply with legal process; (2) to enforce the User Agreement; (3) to respond to claims of a violation of the rights of another person; (4) to respond to customer service inquiries; and (5) to “protect the rights, property, or personal safety of LinkedIn, our Users or the public”. This is mostly consistent with peer companies. As we note in our summary of results, these provisions are often too broad. We also query whether LinkedIn needs the right to disclose user information to “respond to customer service inquiries”. This would seem to allow the company to disclose private information about one of its members to another member (such as his or her employer) who makes a customer service inquiry.

Despite this broad provision, LinkedIn’s actual practice of responding to government requests for user data has been commendable. It recently published a set of Law Enforcement Data Request Guidelines, which state that the company’s policy is to notify its users of requests for their data. It also publishes statistics about government requests for information about users. 

SCORE: 18 / 25
  • LinkedIn can disclose your data to third parties
  • LinkedIn has good policies and procedures when it comes to responding to government requests for users' data

Amendment & Termination

LinkedIn’s rights regarding amendment and termination are mostly consistent with those of the other companies surveyed. It has the right to modify the terms of the User Agreement, effective upon notifying users. And it may “terminate the Agreement and your account for any reason or no reason, at any time, with or without notice.” We would prefer to see its right to terminate limited to cases where a user has breached the User Agreement. LinkedIn should also commit to allow users to download their data if the service is discontinued or if LinkedIn closes their account.

SCORE: 11 / 25
  • LinkedIn has broad amendment and termination rights


We found no other surprising or concerning provisions.

SCORE: 20 / 25

Peer Sites

Social networks

Google is included for its Google+ social network