Privacy in Germany

If you reveal information about yourself on Facebook can you complain if it used against you? In Germany apparently the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ – the government is drafting a law that will make it an offence for employers to snoop on job candidates’ social media pages during the hiring process.

There’s no question that Facebook has become a useful source of information for employers, double-checking up on job candidates to see if their online personality matches the person they met at the interview.  A survey last year showed that nearly half of businesses do this, and a third of them admitted rejecting candidates after discovering they had lied about their qualifications or were accustomed to dissing their former employers.

Well, why not? If you’re talking to the world you shouldn’t be surprised if the world suddenly sits up and pays attention. But Germany is always a special case where privacy is concerned, its citizens having endured first the Gestapo and then the East German Stasi constantly snooping on them. Apparently this comes naturally to some German employers as well – there has been a spate of scandals in recent years about businesses spying and eavesdropping on staff members, even putting cameras in toilets and changing rooms.

Obviously the ban won’t apply to LinkedIn and the like, nor will firms be banned from using the Internet to gather general hiring information relating to job candidates. But where Facebook and other similar sites are concerned, in Germany it’s as though a big PRIVATE sign is being slapped on the door.

Interesting to see what politicians elsewhere will make of it. Could it catch on?

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