Germany to Forbid Facebook Research in Hiring

But how workable is this new law?

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That sound you hear is Facebook users clicking "like" on the Germany page. A new law in Germany is set to prevent bosses from checking job candidates' social networking profiles. The law, set for approval on Wednesday, according to Der Spiegel, will "radically restrict the information bosses can legally collect." Business-oriented networking sites like LinkedIn are "fair game," as is "information about the candidate that is generally available on the Internet." Translation:

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.

Here's some of the reaction, which includes a few questions from the tech bloggers:

  • 'How Workable Is This Law?' asks Steve O'Hear at TechCrunch. "How would you prove that an employer has or hasn’t checked out a candidate on Facebook or any other non-professional social network?" He also finds the Google exception "bizarre," adding that, "if Googling is allowed, then that sort of cancels out the Facebook protection," since "much of Facebook's data" is now indexed by search engines.
  • Google Exception 'Strange,' agrees Jason Weingarten at Global University Recruiting Connect, who nevertheless seems intrigued at the prospect of a "ripple effect throughout Europe, Canada, and maybe even the US and Asia." Weingarten himself "still think[s] that employers have the right to find public information on their potential hires as they are investments and ambassadors of the organization." A few drunk photos shouldn't make or break an application, though.
  • Law Actually Goes Beyond Social Networking  "The draft legislation also covers the issue of companies spying on employees," notes Der Spiegel, forbidding video surveillance of bathrooms and break rooms and only allowing companies' to eavesdrop on telephone calls and emails "under a certain conditions," which must be disclosed to staff. This, explains Der Spiegel "is partially a reaction to a number of recent scandals in Germany involving management spying on staff." Then, too, "online data privacy is increasingly becoming a hot-button issue in Germany," especially with the recent furor over Google Street View.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.