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Employers may not be able to conduct Facebook checks on prospective employees

I just read an interesting article saying that Germany may be the first to pass a law making it illegal for employers to spy on job applicants’ private postings on Facebook.

The proposed law aims to address privacy concerns about certain online services, such as social networks and Google Street View. Apparently, there has been public outrage in Germany over corporations checking on private employee emails and filming sales clerks during coffee breaks.

At this point, the regulations have not yet been passed, and some are finding it difficult to imagine them being in force. It would also be challenging to prove a violation and enforce the law to win damages.

For instance, employers would still be able to conduct Internet searches on a job applicant, and could view business-related posts on websites such as LinkedIn, but could not go into Facebook and become a “friend” of the applicant, learning even more private details about the person.

The proposed law would also prohibit video surveillance in private areas such as washrooms, under threat of a 300,000 Euro fine. On the other hand, this type of surveillance would still be allowed in public areas.

Some view the proposed bill as a healthy balance between employee rights to privacy and employer rights to know valuable information about employees.

What do you think?

Do you think this type of law could ever be passed in Canada?

Christina Catenacci
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Editor

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Christina Catenacci

Christina Catenacci, BA, LLB, LLM, was called to the Ontario Bar in 2002 and has since been a member of the Ontario Bar Association. Christina worked as an editor with First Reference between February 2005 and August 2015, working on publications including The Human Resources Advisor (Ontario, Western and Atlantic editions), HRinfodesk discussing topics in Labour and Employment Law. Christina has decided to pursue a PhD at the University of Western Ontario beginning in the fall of 2015. Read more
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