Plaintiffs alleging privacy violations against LinkedIn had their suit dismissed with prejudice last week.

Multiple class action lawsuits were filed against the online professional network by plaintiffs claiming that they suffered economic and emotional harm when LinkedIn shared their browsing history with third-party advertisers.

Third parties could theoretically de-anonymize a user’s unique LinkedIn ID number and associate it with a user’s profile page, determining his or her identity, the plaintiffs argued. Once the correlation was made, a third party would be able to examine a user’s browser history.

Although U.S. District Court Judge Lucy H. Koh determined that the plaintiffs had articulated a concrete harm for purposes of standing to bring suit, she ruled that they failed to state a claim for relief.

LinkedIn is not covered by the Stored Communications Act because it does not function as a “remote computing service” or an “electronic communication service” pursuant to the statute, she said.

Further, the California law has “a high bar” for an invasion of privacy claim, she said, which the plaintiffs failed to meet.

“Although plaintiffs postulate that [third parties] could, through inferences, de-anonymize this data, it is not clear that anyone has actually done so, or what information, precisely, these third parties have obtained,” she wrote.

The plaintiffs also failed to allege reliance on a specific representation or advertising in registering for or using the LinkedIn site, Judge Koh noted. Although the plaintiffs quote from the company’s privacy policy, they “never allege they were aware of the privacy policy, let alone saw or read it,” she said. Even an argument that their privacy was violated by an omission in the privacy policy – i.e., that LinkedIn failed to tell its users that it was sharing information with third parties – wasn’t sufficient where the plaintiffs failed to establish their familiarity with the privacy policy, the judge concluded.

Judge Koh dismissed the suit with prejudice.

To read the decision in Low v. LinkedIn, click here.

Why it matters: Judge Koh also declined to accept the plaintiffs’ argument that their personal information has independent economic value, citing rulings in other privacy suits. Although the plaintiffs put forth technical reports in support of their theory, the judge said she remained “unconvinced.” She also noted that the plaintiffs had failed to claim any diminution in value of their personal information because it had allegedly been disclosed by LinkedIn. For example, the plaintiffs did not allege they made any attempt to sell their personal information and were unable to do so or offered a lower price. The alleged decrease in the value of plaintiffs’ personal information did not constitute cognizable damages, Judge Koh ruled.