Does LinkedIn data belong to me or my employer? Tuesday, June 17, 2008
JP evidently saw the same article I'd seen in the Daily Telegraph yesterday concerning how the recruitment agency Hays had gone to court to force an ex-employee to hand over details of his LinkedIn contacts. Apparently, the employee had been encouraged to use LinkedIn in his dealings with candidates / employers, but obviously when he left Hays these contacts remained on his LinkedIn profile and he had been able to get in touch with them on behalf of his new employer.
When I read this a number of issues sprang to mind in no particular order
- Did the people he had connected with believe they were connecting with Hays or the individual - anyone familiar with LinkedIn would be aware it is an individual's network. It certainly isn't a corporate CRM system. Hence, for the court to grant access to the data to the employer seems to go against Data Protection provisions and for Hays to use such details without the consent of each contact would appear to be a direct breach of the law.
- Surely Hays own internal systems had details for these individuals e.g. CVs or contact histories, so this action was presumably designed to prevent the employee having access to the details? Yet, isn't it also possible that the contacts may wish to remain in touch with the employee and so resent this action on the part of Hays?
- Whilst LinkedIn can be an excellent way of maintaining up to date email details for contacts, its main role is to assist in networking via trusted contacts. As such, in undertaking this action, Hays wouldn't be inheriting a relationship, merely an email address.
- I've been using LinkedIn for 5+ years, with contacts added during my time at different firms. In such a case, should Hays have to delete the contacts made outside of the period of employment both from the LinkedIn records as well as from their internal systems? In reality many people are hired because of the relationships they already have and I'm confident that Hays is not an exception when it hires recruiters.
- In the "old days", people exchanged business cards and individuals would compile large Rolodex of their contacts - did Hays similarly impound the business card collections and electronic address books e.g. Outlook of their departing employees?
- At 11:02 AM, Hawkeye said...
My first thought was that this was a clear case of the 'law being an ass'. But on re-reading the important point I noted was: "Mr Justice Richards last week ordered Mr Ions to disclose his LinkedIn business contacts requested by Hays and all emails sent to or received by his LinkedIn account from Hays' computer network."
If this disclosure is limited to emails sent to and from contacts via Hays computer network then I have some sympathy with Hays and may even agree with the judgement. It would seem that the issue revolves around a 3 week period before he left Hays during which time he was soliciting clients for his own agency that he was starting up. If he was doing this via the Hays computer network I am fairly sure they have good grounds for the claims they are making. No employer gives you thr right to carry out work for another employer whilst you are supposed to be working for them, especially if the second employer happens to be you starting up a competitive operation.