Open LinkedIn Platform Should Focus on Privacy

August 21, 2007

LinkedIn’s CEO Reid Hoffman promised at the end of June to open the LinkedIn platform, very much aligned with Facebook’s publishing its developer APIs, and surely trying to experience some of the same growth Facebook is receiving thanks to opening their APIs. I hope however that LinkedIn is thinking about all the risks associated with opening up a business community.

LinkedIn will need to review and approve every single application out there consuming their services. The last thing you want is a pile a lawsuits on your desk because of misapproprated data, especially personal data covered by the EU/95 Privacy Directive, also implemented in the UK via the Data Protection Act, and somehow applicable to US companies under the Safe Harbor Agreements.

LinkedIn should focus on opening the APIs for its users. One of my main complains with LinkedIn is that it is very good at sucking my data, but it's very hard to get some of that data back, let's say synchronizing with my phone's address book or even the more simple operation of importing my contacts into my Outlook calendar. That's where I would like to see LinkedIn going, allowing developers to write such plugins, for us to access our own data. Anything beyond this very personal use of the data might end up hurting LinkedIn, and what is worse from a business perspective, possibly dillute it into another, smaller, does-it-all, Facebook.

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