LinkedIn Faces Italian Probe Following User Data Scraping

Microsoft Corp.’s LinkedIn faces a probe by the Italian privacy watchdog after reports that the personal data of some 500 million users was scraped off the platform and posted online.

The Italian authority said in a statement late Thursday that it started an investigation following “the dissemination of user data, including IDs, full names, email addresses, telephone numbers.”

The regulator said Italy has one of the highest numbers of subscribers to LinkedIn in Europe and called on affected users to “pay particular attention to any anomalies” related to their phone number and their account. Scraping is a technique that extracts data from a website, usually with automated software.

The company said in a statement that “this was not a LinkedIn data breach, and no private member account data from LinkedIn was included.”

“When anyone tries to take member data and use it for purposes LinkedIn and our members haven’t agreed to, we work to stop them and hold them accountable,” it said.

The Italian move comes after Ireland’s privacy authority said it was looking into a leak over the weekend of the personal data of more than half a billion Facebook Inc. users. The Irish Data Protection Commission was in contact with LinkedIn on Thursday and is now waiting for answers “to a number of questions,” the watchdog’s spokesman Graham Doyle said in an email.

Luxembourg’s data authority in a statement on Friday said it’s trying to find out how many of its citizens are affected and would liaise with other national regulators on the matter.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, took effect in May 2018, paving the way for national authorities in the region to levy fines on companies that violate the rules of as much as 4% of annual sales.

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