- Slaw - http://www.slaw.ca -

Property in a LinkedIn Account: Employer or Employee?

At the IT.Can conference earlier this week, I outlined some legal issues with social media [1].

One of my quick points was that there could be an issue about the entitlement of an ex-employee to a professional LinkedIn account. The case I had in mind in listing the issue was one involving a woman named Linda Eagle, who built up a company with her own name, but when she sold it and the new owners fired her, a dispute arose whether they could keep her LinkedIn profile. Since her assistant had her password, the employers managed to take over the profile. She sued.

A court in the US [2] has ruled [3] [PDF] that Ms Eagle does not have a case under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) for unauthorized use, but she may have a case under state law of conversion. (Can the tort of conversion can cover data or other such claims?) The link above is to an ABA story, whose title is misleading because it mentions only the dismissal of the federal case but not the maintenance of the state law case. Neither has been decided; this was only about jurisdiction.

So: what would you advise your clients? Your partners?