U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh cares about your reputation. That's why she decided that LinkedIn members can sue the company for accessing their external email accounts in order to send their contacts spammy marketing.

It was not merely a privacy violation. The judge allowed the lawsuit to go forward because LinkedIn's ADHD approach to email—I've received at least 12 this week—can ruin your reputation. Bombarding your contacts, she said, makes members look like a business loser who can't "take the hint":

Users of the world's most popular professional-networking website consented to LinkedIn's sending an "endorsement e-mail" to recruit their contacts to the site, Koh said in her ruling. The judge said the company's practice of then sending reminder messages to contacts who hadn't responded was grounds for the lawsuit to go forward.

LinkedIn's sending repeated e-mails could impair reputations by allowing contacts to think the network member is "unable to take the hint" that they don't want to join the website, Koh said.

Her ruling will allow plaintiffs to seek damages from the money LinkedIn made by snooping in your email address books and using your name as marketing ploy, reports Bloomberg:

"Nothing in LinkedIn's disclosures alerts users to the possibility that their contacts will receive not just one invitation, but three," she said.

Wait until Judge Koh hears that LinkedIn got into the birthday reminder business.

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