German Privacy Law Would Ban Firms From Using Facebook to Vet Potential Employees

Google given the wink over Facebook in Germany's proposed privacy law

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A proposed privacy law in Germany will outlaw the use of Facebook for employee vetting, says Spiegel Online. Thomas de Maiziere, the country's Interior Minister, has drafted a data privacy law that aims to put a stop to bosses checking out potential subordinates via their Facebook pages. As it stands, the draft legislation does not cover LinkedIn or even Google, as that is seen as, respectively, work-related, and "fair game."

Given the fact that the German authorities and Google have had several run-ins this year over the thorny issue of privacy, one could be surprised by this last move. Facebook, however, has been at the center of a data privacy row since last month, with the Hamburg Data Protection Authority launching a legal action against the Big Blue 'Book.

The issue of companies spying on their workers is also dealt with. Video surveillance in bathrooms, changing rooms, and break rooms is verboten, and workers will have to be made aware of any on-site cameras. This is because several high-profile firms had compiled nasty personal details and put their workers under surveillance—in the case of supermarket giant Lidl, putting up cameras in the toilets.

One can't help wondering just how easy this law will be to police—given that Google is the conduit through which pretty much all things on the Internet pass—including Facebook. How do you prove that a firm's HR department checked out your Facebook page before giving you the thumbs-down? And why is Google okay and Facebook not? All this will, presumably, be hammered out as the law, the fruit of Germany's coalition government, inches closer to the statute book.

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