The Teton County Library is expressing public privacy concerns regarding changes to a popular online learning platform, Lynda.com, which social media giant LinkedIn purchased in 2015.
Local library leaders released the following media statement today:
Teton County Library joins the American Library Association in urging LinkedIn Learning to change its terms of service, believed to impair patrons’ privacy rights.
The issue stems from the recent purchase of lynda.com online learning database by LinkedIn, which in October plans to require all users of lynda.com, now called LinkedIn Learning, to create a LinkedIn profile.
Patrons who access the popular lynda.com online classes for free through the library’s website formerly used only their library card numbers and pins to log in to their accounts, keeping a wall of anonymity between them and the lynda.com platform.
A LinkedIn profile, however, requires users to disclose their full name and email address in addition to library card information in order to use the classes. Providing this data would link browsing habits to personally identifiable information, a practice that directly violates the library’s core value of protecting patron privacy, according to library directors.
“Though we have enjoyed an increasingly well-used subscription for our patrons with lynda.com for the past three plus years, we may be forced to discontinue the service when the LinkedIn requirement changes at the end of October,” Library Director Dawn Jenkin said.
“At base, this issue is about the commercialization of the internet,” Jenkin said. "Corporations want libraries to give them user data so that they can sell it for a profit. We’re already paying for the database. It’s not our job to further increase their revenue.”
Library staff and the American Library Association urge concerned citizens and library patrons to voice their support for protecting library users’ privacy rights by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Library users can currently take an unlimited number of online classes through LinkedIn Learning at any time. The class offerings number in the thousands, with the most popular subject matters including web and software development, marketing and business, design and photography.
Teton County Library is looking into alternative sources for online learning options.