ALA urges LinkedIn Learning to reconsider changes to terms of service that impair library users’ privacy rights

CHICAGO - LinkedIn Learning — formerly Lynda.com, a platform used by libraries to provide online learning opportunities to library users — plans to make substantial changes to its terms of service that would significantly impair library users’ privacy rights.

Under LinkedIn Learning’s new terms of service, a library cardholder will need to create a LinkedIn profile in order to access LinkedIn Learning. In addition to providing their library card number and PIN, users will have to disclose their full name and email address to create a new LinkedIn profile or connect to their existing profile. New users will have their LinkedIn profile set to public by default, allowing their full name to be searched on Google and LinkedIn.

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. ALA’s Library Bill of Rights and its interpretations maintain that all library users have the right to access library resources without disclosing their personally identifiable information (PII) to third parties, and to be free from unreasonable intrusion into, or surveillance of, their lawful library use.

“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,” said ALA President Wanda Kay Brown. “It also violates the librarian’s ethical obligation to keep a person’s use of library resources confidential. We are deeply concerned about these changes to the terms of service and urge LinkedIn and its owner, Microsoft, to reconsider their position on this.”

ALA has long encouraged library vendors to respect the privacy and confidentiality of library users, observe the law, and conform to the professional statements of ethics that protect library users’ privacy, including the ALA Code of Ethics and the NISO Consensus Principles on Users’ Digital Privacy in Library, Publisher, and Software-Provider Systems.

Libraries and librarians who wish to share their concerns about the proposed changes in to LinkedIn Learning’s terms of service and to voice their support for protecting library users’ privacy rights should communicate with Farhan Syed, Vice President of Client Solutions at [email protected].

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