21 March 2011 #Employment
The European Union is to legislate a "right to be forgotten online" to prevent, for example, prospective employers finding Facebook party photos of someone posted online of a night that would best be forgotten.
Viviane Reding, the EU Justice Commissioner gave a speech this week which warned companies that she intends to force Facebook and other social networking sites to make high standards of data privacy the default setting so that privacy is inbuilt and give control over data back to the user. Currently on Facebook users have to opt in to ensure that photographs and other information can only be viewed by friends. Reding`s staff consider that a typical user does not know how to do this as the privacy settings are often complex.
Under the proposals, users shall have the right (not merely the possibility) to withdraw their consent to data processing and outlaw the surreptitious gathering of data without the user explicitly giving permission. After consent has been withdrawn, there should not even be a ghost of personal data left in the server somewhere - it should be gone for good.
The commission is expected to finalise its proposals in the summer and it may then be another year before legislation comes into force. So employers who currently obtain information about employees or job candidates have some time yet to continue doing so. If you do this in your organisation, be aware of the risks of doing so e.g. of discrimination, right to privacy and data protection issues. Employers should have clear policies in place regarding internet usage and social/other media.