Der Spiegel reports on a proposed law in Germany concerning social-networking sites and job applicants — the legislation also considers the privacy rights of employees in the workplace. We’ve discussed before how data from social-networking sites (such as MySpace, Facebook or Bebo) are being used in the United States to gather evidence in criminal trials, against employees and applicants to jobs, and high school students as well as applicants to colleges and graduate schools.
Der Spiegel reports, “According to a 2009 survey commissioned by the website CareerBuilder, some 45 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates. And some 35 percent of those employers had rejected candidates based on what they found there, such as inappropriate photos, insulting comments about previous employers or boasts about their drug use.” However, there is good news for social-networking site users in Germany:
According to reports in the Monday editions of the Die Welt and Süddeutsche Zeitung newspapers, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has drafted a new law on data privacy for employees which will radically restrict the information bosses can legally collect. The draft law, which is the result of months of negotiations between the different parties in Germany’s coalition government, is set to be approved by the German cabinet on Wednesday, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Although the new law will reportedly prevent potential bosses from checking out a candidate’s Facebook page, it will allow them to look at sites that are expressly intended to help people sell themselves to future employers, such as the business-oriented social networking site LinkedIn. Information about the candidate that is generally available on the Internet is also fair game. In other words, employers are allowed to google potential hires. Companies may not be allowed to use information if it is too old or if the candidate has no control over it, however.
The draft legislation also covers the issue of companies spying on employees. According to Die Welt, the law will expressly forbid firms from video surveillance of workers in “personal” locations such as bathrooms, changing rooms and break rooms. Video cameras will only be permitted in certain places where they are justified, such as entrance areas, and staff will have to be made aware of their presence.
Similarly, companies will only be able to monitor employees’ telephone calls and e-mails under certain conditions, and firms will be obliged to inform their staff about such eavesdropping.