German court affirms legal significance of ‘Do Not Track’ signals in LinkedIn case

A recent court ruling has given new life to the “Do Not Track” (DNT) initiative, affirming its legal significance under the EU’s GDPR. The case involved LinkedIn, which misled users about DNT. While the ruling doesn’t compel LinkedIn to respect DNT, it recognizes it as a valid means for users to exercise their rights.

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In a recent decision by a German regional court in Berlin, the “Do Not Track” (DNT) initiative has come to the forefront. The case centered on LinkedIn, which had notified its users that it does not acknowledge DNT signals. This led German consumer advocates to contend that LinkedIn’s notice was deceptive and misled users. The court found that LinkedIn had breached competition law by providing misleading information to consumers. Nevertheless, the ruling did not mandate that LinkedIn must adhere to DNT signals but acknowledged DNT as a legitimate avenue for users to assert their legal rights. The Berlin court ruled that DNT holds legal significance under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). LinkedIn intends to challenge the decision.

Why does it matter?

DNT is a browser feat that enables users to request that technology companies refrain from monitoring their online behavior. While major web browsers had incorporated DNT support, online services commonly disregarded user preferences expressed through this feature. The ruling may encourage other jurisdictions to recognize the validity of DNT signals, potentially leading to more consistent enforcement of online privacy measures globally.