LinkedIn Addresses Mobile Calendar Privacy Concerns

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Social networks have been struggling to find a balance on the issue of privacy for years, and LinkedIn is no different. Being the social network for professional networking means privacy is especially important to LinkedIn - careers can be dashed if highly personal information is shared haphazardly. In the past week the company has updated its privacy policy, and today it is addressing some privacy concerns that have been raised about its mobile calendar feature.

With the LinkedIn app for mobile platforms, such as the iPad, users can enable the calendar feature of the app to sync with their mobile device's calendar and pull in information about the meetings they have scheduled. With the feature enabled, users can view the LinkedIn profiles of the people listed as attending a meeting. While this may seem to be a simple way to remember names and prepare for a meeting, LinkedIn admits that there have been concerns about what the company does with the event information, particularly meeting notes, that it pulls from device calendars.

To alleviate concerns, LinkedIn Mobile Product Head Joff Redfern outlined exactly what the company's policies are with regards to calendar data. He provided clarity in a blog post over at the LinkedIn Blog:

In order to provide our calendar service to those who choose to use it, we need to send information about your calendar events to our servers so we can match people with LinkedIn profiles. That information is sent securely over SSL and we never share or store your calendar information.

In an effort to make that algorithm for matching people with profiles increasingly smarter we pull the complete calendar event, including email addresses of people you are meeting with, meeting subject, location and meeting notes.

So, while LinkedIn does pull what could be considered sensitive meeting information, Redfern is adamant that the company does not store or share the information with third parties. He also reiterated several times in his post that the calendar sync feature is opt-in, meaning users must explicitly give LinkedIn permission to pull their device's calendar information.

Redfern stated that LinkedIn has taken immediate action to improve the mobile calendar's privacy features. "We will no longer send data from the meeting notes section of your calendar event," said Redfern. Also, a "learn more" link will be provided to better educate users on how the feature uses their calendar data. These changes have already rolled out for the Android version of the LinkedIn app, and the iOS version will be updating soon.

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