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Social Networks The Internet Businesses

Who Owns Your Online Networking Contacts? 130

Posted by kdawson
from the nothing-personal dept.
Ben Morris writes "A recent judgement in the UK courts has forced a former employee to hand over details of his business contacts built up through LinkedIn.com while he was employed by his former company. The decision is one of the first in the UK to show the tension between businesses encouraging their employees to use social networking websites, and trying to claim that the contacts should remain confidential when they leave."
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Who Owns Your Online Networking Contacts?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 11, 2008 @03:38PM (#24559325)

    Hays alleged that the employee used his LinkedIn network to approach clients for his own rival agency, which he set up a few weeks before leaving them.
     

  • by prgrmr (568806) on Monday August 11, 2008 @03:39PM (#24559327) Journal
    If he registered his work e-mail and promoted that as his main contact, then yes, he was using Linkedin in the course of performing his job and his employer is entitled to those contacts. However, I would also expect that whether or not there's confidentiality involved would depend upon if there was an NDA in force when he was hired.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Rinisari (521266)

      I think this is relevant. However, I would think the contacts thing would be in his contract or employee rules. However, his old company shouldn't be able to bar him from contacting these people from his new company, even if he was keeping his list of contacts on a slip of paper in his office.

      However, this news is coming out of the UK, so things are probably different over there.

      • It depends on your business; if you're in banking or finance there can be rules about contacting your former clients for a period of time after you switch jobs.

        I've seen them try and do the same thing to sales people, but it doesn't seem to work as well (in my experience).

        For IT? I can't see where there would be a problem really.

        • by grahammm (9083) * <graham@gmurray.org.uk> on Monday August 11, 2008 @03:55PM (#24559515)

          It depends on your business; if you're in banking or finance there can be rules about contacting your former clients for a period of time after you switch jobs.

          Whereas in other industries, such as the beauty business, it is normal for clients to follow you when you change jobs.

          • Sadly, the same goes for banking...People get attached to their banker, and since it's such a trust position, they'll follow that guy if he switches, rather than try to "break in" someone new.

            • by compro01 (777531) on Monday August 11, 2008 @05:10PM (#24560405)

              Not just trust, but also a "knows what I need/want" thing. It generally happens with any sort of personalized service. Bankers, brokers, investment consultants (a lot of times those three hats are worn by one person), doctors, lawyers, funeral planners, etc. All of them rely heavily on repeat clients and word-of-mouth advertising, which in turn rely heavily on providing just-what-I-needed service.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by bsDaemon (87307)

                Outside of zombie/vampire movies, how much repeat business do funeral planners really get? The customer is usually one-time, satisfied or not :-p

                • by compro01 (777531) on Monday August 11, 2008 @07:04PM (#24561545)

                  Not sure if you're completely joking or not, but the customers are not the deceased, but the family of the deceased, which typically do bring opportunities for repeat business, as everyone, including vampires and zombies, dies eventually, and if they were satisfied with the services the first time, it's likely they'll return.

                  • as everyone, including vampires and zombies, dies eventually, and if they were satisfied with the services the first time, it's likely they'll return.

                    Isn't that sort of how you get zombies and vampires in the first place? Or is it that you're hoping for a sequel? =]

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by myowntrueself (607117)

            Whereas in other industries, such as the beauty business, it is normal for clients to follow you when you change jobs.

            Oh I have a great story about this.

            I used to do business with a company that sold computer equipment.
            They had a old-ish sales guy, totally non-technical but a real people-person. He was great to deal with and went out of his way for me.

            He was also a part-owner of the business.

            Well, a few of the other business owners got together late one night and wrote him out of the company.

            This sales guy

            • by tuomoks (246421)

              Right, have seen that in many fields and companies. It is not just sales or whatever - once you build a customer relationship it follows you no matter how or what a company wants or thinks. A company is clever if it handles it right, friendly persuasion (money?) or whatever. In all cases when they try to play hardball - both sides lose and the customers go somewhere else. I also have seen companies go down and never recover from that.

              Back to subject - didn't they have his contact list already? Didn't they h

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by myowntrueself (607117)

                Back to subject - didn't they have his contact list already? Didn't they have their own system where he could could manage the contacts?

                In this case yes, they had the contact list and all the details on the customers. Its just that the customers didn't want to talk to them. It was never them that the customers wanted to talk to; everyone asked for the personable old sales critter every time.

                Thats probably why they wanted to get rid of him and why they ended up getting rid of most of their customers as well.

        • by dedazo (737510)

          For IT? I can't see where there would be a problem really.

          Consulting firms usually have non-compete clauses (and if you're leaving in amicable terms, simply gentleman's agreements) about what you can do once you leave, if you're leaving for the competition or creating your own. Usually you're not supposed to dip into the client pool you were working with at the previous company, for six months to a year.

          When I left my firm to start my own, I left on very good terms with them, so for the next six months I di

          • Yea, I wasn't thinking of consulting...Talk about your personal relationships. I spent a couple of years doing consulting, and I get calls to this day (4 years later).

            • by tcr (39109)

              IIRC, Hays IT are a recruitment firm, and contacts would be a currency to them.
               
              Speaking as a UK contactor, it's not at all unusual to have a fishing conversation about your resume...
               
              You worked at X inc.?
              Did you work for [make a name up]?
              Oh... who was it then?
               

        • by Wylfing (144940) <brian AT wylfing DOT net> on Monday August 11, 2008 @04:12PM (#24559731) Homepage Journal

          I've seen them try and do the same thing to sales people, but it doesn't seem to work as well (in my experience).

          Most States have laws that prohibit contractual obligations that prevent you from working in your field. I mean, you can't very well tell a medical device sales rep that he is forbidden from approaching physicians for 1 year.

          Plus, anyone in sales knows damn well (or ought to know) to keep their own contact list, and not rely exclusively on the company contact database.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            According to the article and numerous posts in http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/08/08/1335253/ [slashdot.org], California is the only U.S. State with a law prohibiting contractual obligations that prevent you from working in your field.

            So what set of States were you referring to when you said "most States have laws that prohibit" that?

      • by Teun (17872)
        A friend works as a realtor and when he told his company he was quitting to go independent they went to court demanding he could not (continue to) do business with their clients.

        The court ruled he could in his new company not contact his old clients but they were free to call him.

        (That was the Dutch solution)

    • You are correct only insofar as the employee is concerned. Both British and EU law protects all personally identifying information on behalf of the person identified, NOT the holder of that information, which means that the employee has no legal right to forward that information to anyone, even if that information is obtained in the course of his work duties. The information doesn't belong to him, it belongs to the people it is about.

      (That is what makes the EU - in principle - far superior to other regions when it comes to privacy. You own all data about you, no matter who has it. You do not rescind ownership, simply by handing it to someone. They are merely licensed to hold that information. You are entitled to demand that they reveal what information they have, and are entitled to demand mistakes are corrected or that the information is destroyed.)

      If the employee has no legal ownership of the information, the court cannot order him to forward it. Courts can't order people to commit offenses! That would be absurd. And since he is merely the licensee of that information, not its owner, the court had no business regarding him as a concerned party.

      I want to see privacy laws increased in Europe - there isn't nearly enough, which is why Britain has so many CCTV systems, mostly used for the purpose of selling footage to the media - they are barely ever used in criminal cases and aren't even that usable when they are. Further, only computer-stored data is protected, which is stupid - privacy breeches are about the privacy not the method.

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        That's no longer the case. Anything stored in a "structured filing system" is protected now. It certainly includes video tapes, and a lot of paper files.

  • Riight (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@ g m a i l . c om> on Monday August 11, 2008 @03:44PM (#24559389) Journal

    If you make contacts, you keep 'em unless it's something profoundly related to your company (e.g. the guy in shared services who'll push your capital requests).

    Otherwise those are your contacts. You bet your ass the sales guys turn around and pitch your customers in their next gig. Why should it be any different for IT?

    • by l0ungeb0y (442022)

      Because everyone knows IT workers are social retards and shouldn't be allowed to annoy anyone on the companies friends list, who only tolerate awkward chats with the IT workers because they're paid to.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thermian (1267986)

      Those contacts were direct from his work contacts list, he was trying to pull a fast one and didn't get away with it.

  • by lantastik (877247) on Monday August 11, 2008 @03:44PM (#24559391)

    Apparently some other members of the company had been contacted by recruiters and they started going through email and found some emails in violation of the non-compete clause. They then solidified their case through the former employee's LinkedIn contacts. The guy ended up settling out of court and they drilled him financially.

    After finding that out, I went through my LinkedIn contacts and removed ALL the recruiters on there I didn't know on a personal level. I then contacted the recruiters remaining on my list and asked them to contact me before sending any InMail to any of my LinkedIn contacts.

    • by jd (1658)
      Isn't California abolishing/banning non-compete clauses? That's going to make such actions fun, as most corporations exist in multiple States and therefore you've no real way of knowing which State the e-mail server is in.
    • Another good reason to never agree to a non-compete clause, or at least try to get a contract without one. I had my last employer strike the non-compete clause from my contract of employment when I signed it. Left the company to freelance for my client. The agency I worked for tried to foist a non-compete clause on me as well, but they too agreed to have it removed from the contract.

      You'll want to look for non-contact clauses as well... the contract I was offered had a clause that forbade me to seek a
  • After RTFA, it appears as if the bloke in question set up his linkdin several weeks prior to him leaving. Of a more interesting nature, in my mind, is, at what point does an employer here in the States 'own' your contacts? Think about it. You've been on a site like the one mentioned in the article for lets say 5 years. You accept a position at a new company. Over the course of your 2 years being employed there, you add lets say 5 contacts. You then accept another position at another company, perhaps because you received a better job offer through this service. Can the comapny you are now leaving sue you in the US and obtain all of your contacts, even those prior to when you joined?
    Another question is, are you now in the position of having to list out any and all personal and professional contacts you have on various internet sites as a part of your disclosure when filling out your paperwork for a new company? Sort of like having to list patents, websites and other works you might already have prior to working somehwere?
    Time will tell I guess. this case seems pretty straightforward based on the limited article...but it sure will muddy up quick.

    • by mcvos (645701)

      After RTFA, it appears as if the bloke in question set up his linkdin several weeks prior to him leaving. Of a more interesting nature, in my mind, is, at what point does an employer here in the States 'own' your contacts? Think about it. You've been on a site like the one mentioned in the article for lets say 5 years. You accept a position at a new company. Over the course of your 2 years being employed there, you add lets say 5 contacts. You then accept another position at another company, perhaps because you received a better job offer through this service. Can the comapny you are now leaving sue you in the US and obtain all of your contacts, even those prior to when you joined?

      Depends on what you mean by "obtaining your contacts". On linkedin, you can contact your contacts' contacts, so chances are your co-workers will be able to make your contacts their contacts too. If those contacts agree, ofcourse. That's pretty much how it works.

      I fail to see the need to get judges involved.

      Another question is, are you now in the position of having to list out any and all personal and professional contacts you have on various internet sites as a part of your disclosure when filling out your

    • "Of a more interesting nature, in my mind, is, at what point does an employer here in the States 'own' your contacts?"

      At no point whatsoever. Contacts are just knowledge, and they're not secret knowledge. There is no law that covers their ownership. The reaction I'm reading to this story makes me think that people now believe, a priori, that anything an employer can do to an employee is legal, until the employee has proven otherwise in a court of law.

      There is no way this would fucking stand up in the US.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday August 11, 2008 @03:46PM (#24559411)

    Is a tricky question.

    The real question is, though, how does it impact on your and your former employer's life? A contact isn't some sort of IP. There's a person or a company on the other end of the address, phone number or mail address. How will they react to a company that browbeats you into handing over your, partly private, address book?

    If anything I'd send a mail to my contacts and tell them in no uncertain terms what my former employer did. Would you want to do business with a company where you have to watch constantly for backstabbing? I don't know if I'd really enjoy that.

    • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@ g m a i l . c om> on Monday August 11, 2008 @03:56PM (#24559527) Journal

      Just another example of social networking privacy issues. If your contact list was on your crackberry, you could give 'em the finger, secure in the knowledge that they'd never get hold of it.

      But if it's right out there on LinkedIn...Well shit. What do you do? Especially if some of the contacts you've made are more buddy-buddy than pure contact...Or hell, what about all the contacts you make in school? I know dozens of people working for tech companies all over.

      I know a manager in a corp that is competing directly with the corp I work for. We even BS industry specific crap back and forth; nothing truly private, but you know how the auditors get...But I knew this guy before either of us started working our current gigs. It would be easy to argue it as related or suggestive, but in reality it's just co-incidental.

      • by jd (1658)
        I'm curious as to the reasoning of the court. In Britain, personal information identifying an individual is protected under the data protection act. Information cannot be stored on an individual without consent by that individual, so unless each and every contact gave permission, their relationship to the person in question is protected. The individual does not have the lawful right to pass such protected information without that express consent. European data protection laws also apply in this. This is a
        • by FnH (137981) on Monday August 11, 2008 @05:10PM (#24560401)

          The intent the information was shared with plays a role here I imagine. If the intent for the contact was to keep in touch with the company, then the information can be transferred. If the intent was to keep in touch at a more personal level, then it can't. Chances are that at least some of the contacts were personal, and that this ruling should have been more nuanced.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by davidsyes (765062)

        I don't have a LinkedIn account, but does it allow users to flag/tag they contacts as to:

        - persona
        - business
        - source
        - in a field related to my current employers' core line of business
        - mildly risky
        - ???

        And, what of an employee who has all sorts of non-professional/unprofessional, naughty contacts, say, polluting the list just to waste the time of anyone being an asshole enough to demand the list?

        May as well populate the list with names of thousands of deceased. Start name-scraping off headstones in Colma, C

      • by kwerle (39371)

        I know a manager in a corp that is competing directly with the corp I work for. We even BS industry specific crap back and forth; nothing truly private, but you know how the auditors get...But I knew this guy before either of us started working our current gigs. It would be easy to argue it as related or suggestive, but in reality it's just co-incidental.

        And when you're BSing, you use private email addresses on both ends, right? Because if you're using company machines, I'd say you're digging your own grave[s], career-wise.

        • Hmmm. I was going to go into detail, but it occurred to me that posting such information in the clear, through the monitor I would hypothetically have to be bypassing, would be teh stupid.

          Suffice it to say, "Yes." I can think of a number of ways to secure my transmissions, and it's not unlikely that I've used at least one of them. Paranoia is your friend.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Customer lists can be IP in the form of trade secrets. If the list has economic value and the company takes reasonable measures to protect it, it is likely a trade secret. See http://iplaw.blogs.com/content/2006/06/in_a_may_31_200.html [blogs.com].

    • Divulging what your (former) employer has done could well be considered a violation of most standard Non-disclosure agreements (telling how your previous employer gets their contact data).

      Contacting said contacts to give them what might be construed as negative information about your prior employer could indeed convince them to do business elsewhere, raising the spectre of competitive activity (even if you don't profit directly). If company xyz is able to take your former employer's contacts because you p

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Rude Turnip (49495)

      "A contact isn't some sort of IP."

      Under accounting rules in the US, a customer list is a type of "identifiable intangible asset."

    • I think that nless the employee broke the law, I don't see what the problem is. People get contacts when they work for an employer. Lose your job? Call your contacts. It don't know that just because he setup the account a few weeks before leaving really proves anything. I've a few friends who are DJs that have regular employment but don't work for the same person all the time. They go from one club to another. Why? Facebook contacts are one reason.

      I'd be more worried about doing business or being employed b

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am now convinced anything online - is not property; IP or not. It is simply "out there".

    Laws and such will (mostly) favor those with powerful lawyers and the financial ability to control that "property".

    I have recently begun to contribute to a short story site. I consider all of that material "gone" and even though we have a license on the work - I don't expect it to be ever enforceable.

    And before you claim banking websites and owning that - information to funds over the Internet is simply a reflection

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Monday August 11, 2008 @04:02PM (#24559605) Homepage

    ...where they have decent employment and privacy laws this would never be allowed.

    Oh. Wait...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's not in Europe, it's in the UK. Yes they are and no they're not, and this is exactly the sort of issue that puts the UK apart from, or at least very much to one side of, European policies.

      The Euro and Iraq are two other easily noticed examples. If you actually find yourself thinking that what happens in the UK is exemplar of Europe, then you need to review what you know about the region.

    • No matter how good the laws...

      If you have a moronic lawyer defending you who doesn't know how to apply them, they're completely useless.

      You have a small chance the judge will be so aware of the law that they'll save you from your incompetent lawyer but, pretty much, no matter how good the law, you're screwed if your lawyer's an idiot.

      In this case, the Data Protection Act says the information is owned by the people it is about, merely licensed by the guy who had it in his LinkedIn account. A competent lawyer

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday August 11, 2008 @04:07PM (#24559659) Homepage

    Contacts can sometimes be worth an incredible amount of money. This is absolutely true when you're talking about a business that relies on doing contract work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bjourne (1034822)
      Indeed, which is why companies use something called "Customer Relationship Management Systems." They even make their salespeople register their clients in such systems and the update them too. That way, when the salesguy quits, he can not take the whole customer list away from you.
      • Well, he can still take it with him, but you'll still have it. And he really will, and there will be a lot of stuff that won't have been entered into Salesforce or whatever you have. But it's better than nothing.

  • made their contacts. Notice "private".

    Then read the EULA including the mice type.

    And yes, I do read EULA and I usually ignore it and I'll live with the consequences - including /.'s - which means they'll ban my account (gasp!) and my IP (double gasp!!) oh God! What do I do?!?! Oh wait ... you guys know.

    By the way, all of you are closet Windows users and want to be the next Bill Gates! :-P

  • of course, they'll have to wade through several dozen pron^H^H^H^Hart websites, as well as half a dozen casino^H^H^H^H^H^Hpractical mathematics websites - not to mention /., UF, YouTube . . . oh, never mind - they can just get it all from the network guys. What, you didn't keep a record of my network activity while I worked for you? Boy, it just sucks to be you today, don't it? I sure don't remember all the people I've had contact with lately, I was counting on you guys to keep track of that for me.
  • by rueger (210566) on Monday August 11, 2008 @04:32PM (#24559993) Homepage
    Us old-timers will recall the glory days of "copyright law doesn't apply to the Internet" and "Libel and slander laws don't apply on the Internet." Tee hee - we were soooo NaÃve.

    Of course a list of contacts developed while in someone's employ belongs to the company. That has been the law in just about every jurisdiction for decades. Just because that list is on the shiny new Intarweb doesn't change anything.

    As with blog posts, comments, YouTube, and Facebook, the onus is on you to keep a clear line between work developed information and personal information, and to think these things through well in advance.

    And to realize that trying to poach you employer's clients will almost always get you in trouble.
    • by rueger (210566)
      That's "naive" since slashdot seemed to not like the proper spelling I pasted in...
  • Good luck with that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BlueZombie (913382) on Monday August 11, 2008 @04:35PM (#24560049)

    To all you worker drones out there:

    • Always read what you sign.
    • Respect it to the letter
    • Whether you respect it beyond the letter, is up to you

    To all you bosses out there:

    • You can maybe force me to turn over an address book
    • But you cannot force me to turn over years of personal relationships I've carefully built
    • So treat me good while you have me
    • Or you'll miss me when I'm gone
    • To all you worker drones out there:
      • Always read what you sign.
      • Respect it to the letter
      • Whether you respect it beyond the letter, is up to you

      Erm... where's the "Profit!"?

  • The issue in this case wasn't whether the employee was entitled to keep a copy of the contacts list after leaving employment. The question was whether the employer was.

    The employer is probably entitled to the information. But the employee may be entitled to it, too. LinkedIn buddy lists ("networks") aren't a big secret. Arguably, they're not entitled to protection as a trade secret. Absent an non-compete agreement (illegal in California), the employee and the employer both probably have the right to a

  • pretty crazy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday August 11, 2008 @04:53PM (#24560233)

    It really all boils down to what you can get away with. As was mentioned previously, hair stylists will tend to take their customers with them when they go to a new salon. This is also common when talking about stock brokers and investment advisers, "taking their book with them." Very competent car salesmen will also walk with their clients. I would have no compunction switching vendors when a salesman changes jobs if the business is such that I know he has a very strong influence in the quality of service I receive.

    At the same time, business owners tend to think of these customers as "theirs" and use any number of anti-competitive ruses to crush their employees. I worked at a midrange shop where the boss hosed one of his sales reps on a deal: he gave the guy a figure to offer for a deal and the rep had no latitude to change the offer, it being the boss' money and all. When the customer hemmed and hawed over it, the boss called them back and offered a better price, then put the sale on his board, not the other rep's! The rep walked, naturally, and a better case of killing a goose that laid golden eggs could not be found. The guy tried taking his book with him and the boss pulled out the non-compete signed many moons ago. They wasted a lot of money in court and the judge eventually decided against him.

    A very common and legal scam in service-related industries is the lawn service con. When someone buys a lawn service, they're not buying the equipment so much as the customer base. The equipment costs are negligible compared to the effort of gathering all those customers in the first place. Ah, but what does the wily lawnmower man do? After he sells his business, he contacts all of his customers and lets them know he's going to be doing business as a different name. Those customers, happy with his service, will switch companies and the new owner of the old company will find himself with no work. Anyone buying a service business like this must must must stipulate a non-compete in the contract.

    There's no right or wrong in this kind of dispute, there's only what you can get away with and what you can be nailed with in court.

    • I really have to wonder, who's buying cars so often that they actually have a chance to get to know a salesman? Me, I'm still on my first car, but I can't imagine buying a car more often than once every three years or so (and probably much less than that), so there would be no way we'd still know each other. I guess there are people out there with money who really like to have new cars, but it's such a strange idea.

      • I really have to wonder, who's buying cars so often that they actually have a chance to get to know a salesman? Me, I'm still on my first car, but I can't imagine buying a car more often than once every three years or so (and probably much less than that), so there would be no way we'd still know each other. I guess there are people out there with money who really like to have new cars, but it's such a strange idea.

        Rich, rich assholes. This guy worked at major luxury dealerships. New car every other year, they never wanted to let that new car smell wear off. Yeah, made no sense to me either.

      • Think corporate buyers - if it's my job to buy cars for Enterprise or set up company cars for the execs in some corp, I'll be dealing with someone I trust.
  • If you're going to get a job with another entity: person, corporation, not-for-profit, don't do it without your own protective clauses. Maybe I'm lucky that as a contractor, I can submit my expectations within the bid documents, but I don't see any reason why a W2 employee can't and shouldn't put their expectations into the work agreement.

    If you do something on behalf of your customer (in this case, your employer), expect the customer to want rights to it. Designing a website, creating a marketing list, e

  • ...but I chown them and then I pwn them.
  • Just send a copy. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SeaFox (739806) on Monday August 11, 2008 @05:37PM (#24560693)

    How exactly does one "hand over" an electronic record that can be freely copied?

    What are they going to do, tell all his contacts to no longer talk to him if he calls?

  • by SirTreveyan (9270) on Monday August 11, 2008 @05:48PM (#24560807)

    Using systems owned by your "soon to be former" employer to set up your business is not very smart. It never hurts to cultivate relationships amongst your work related contacts, however do it on your own time. Manage your contacts at home on your own system as this eliminates any chance that something will be found on your old work system or in the e-mail logs. Figure out ways to strike up away for the office friendships with the contacts your are most interested. It takes time and forethought, but there are ways to "pilfer" a contact list without raising your employer's suspicions and if done right the boss will even encourage you.

    • by argent (18001)

      LinkedIn isn't a system owned by his "soon to be former" employer.

      • by SirTreveyan (9270)

        The computer system, including the Internet connection that he used to access LinkedIn was, the address book he used to transfer data was part of a software package that his employer provided. He was plainly not smart.

        • Sounds like neither of them were smart.

          * If the company was smart they'd have set up a role account on LinkedIn, under a fictitious name.

          * That would almost certainly be against the LinkedIn terms of service, of course. But then I suspect the whole arrangement was against the LinkedIn TOS to start with, and the smart thing for LinkedIn to do would be to cancel the account (while preserving the information offline for legal purposes, of course).

  • Wow...that would get messy. Could they force a divorce?
  • This makes me think of non-compete clauses that some employees have to agree to before working with a company. Contact with clients is a major asset, so if you leave with clients you're stealing from the company in a way.
    • by Tuoqui (1091447)

      In the free market, they'd either stay with the company because its providing much better service *OR* go to the guy who quit and started his own company because they have much better service.

      Competition is something they should have to suck up and deal with it or step up and show your clients you're that much better.

  • That's it... consider me LinkedOut. :-/

  • Keep a duplicate of your business contacts on a separate, private computer. Keep "shill" contacts, such as the plumber, local RadioShack, Fry's, your Mother-In-Law, random 'Big-Industry' email addresses that are easily available from websites, and maybe a few close friends on your site. When you establish contact that you may want to keep secret from your employer as a 'fail-safe' or 'golden parachute' (should you be laid off or decide to switch employers), enter it into your privately-controlled database a

    • by jasen666 (88727)

      Pretty much. How are they going to know whether you gave them all of your contacts, or even your real contact list. You could go through the phone book (or whatever medium you're using) and compile a random list.

Pause for storage relocation.

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