Changes to lynda.com's Log-in Procedure Ignites Feud With U.S. Libraries Over Data Privacy

August 2, 2019
Written by Folake Dosu

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Library communities in the U.S. have long been champions of LinkedIn-owned lynda.com. Many libraries offer their members access to its vast professional skills curriculum on the popular online learning platform. This summer, the relationship has soured since lynda.com, which has been absorbed into LinkedIn Learning, announced a change to its log-in procedure, as ElearningInside reports.

In June, LinkedIn announced that the company planned to change the sign-on procedure by which users access the courses. Rather than allowing a simple email and password sign-in, users must now create a LinkedIn profile to access LinkedIn Learning. Libraries and librarians balked at the update, calling it a violation of their data protection policies as stipulated in the American Library Association’s (ALA) Library Bill of Rights.

Since LinkedIn’s business model is dependent on user data, the switch is seen as a forced value exchange. The ALA urged the company to reconsider in a press release published last week.

 “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.”

 “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, in a statement. “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.”

In a blog post, LinkedIn has countered that protecting its members’ trust and data is “our first priority and guiding principle,” arguing that the changes were in service of those goals, citing user authentication as a protective measure. The company also asserted that using “Private Mode” and opting out of search engine results are some of the ways that users can amend their settings in their accounts.

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