Judge Koh of the District Court for the Northern District of California recently granted LinkedIn’s motion to dismiss with leave to amend in Low v. LinkedIn.  Covington represents LinkedIn in this case, in which Plaintiff alleges that he suffered injury by virtue of LinkedIn’s purported transmittal of a unique UserID to certain third parties as a portion of a URL referrer header.

The Court held that the plaintiff had not alleged sufficient injury-in-fact to satisfy Article III standing, because “Plaintiff has failed to put forth a coherent theory of how his personal information was disclosed or transferred to third parties, and how it has harmed him.”  In making this determination, the Court rejected Plaintiff’s theories of  “emotional” and “economic” harm.

With respect to emotional harm, the court noted that Plaintiff was “unable to articulate a theory of what information had actually been transmitted to third parties, how it had been transferred to third parties, and how LinkedIn had actually caused him harm.”  Similarly, in considering Plaintiff’s theory of economic harm, the Court held that Plaintiff’s allegations were “too abstract and hypothetical to support Article III standing,” citing a growing body of precedent, including Judge Koh’s own recent decision in In re iPhone Application Litigation, in which courts have held that the unauthorized collection of personal information does not create an economic loss.  Quoting Specific Media, the Court observed that Plaintiff had failed to allege how he was foreclosed from capitalizing on the value of his personal data or how he was “deprived of the economic value of [his] personal information simply because [his] unspecified personal information was purportedly collected by a third party.”

As has been observed by commentators, the Low decision continues a trend under which plaintiffs have been unable to meet the Article III threshold in these types of Internet privacy cases, due to an inability by plaintiffs to articulate what practices they are complaining of and how exactly they were harmed by the alleged conduct at issue.