Home Law Would Make Facebook Off Limits for Hiring Decisions, in Germany

Law Would Make Facebook Off Limits for Hiring Decisions, in Germany

The German government has introduced a draft law that would restrict a company’s ability to consult social networks like Facebook when making hiring decisions. The company could use the Internet in general, and job-specific networks like LinkedIn, but not social networks.

Using the Web in general to research employees is still legal under the law. But it would require that an employer ignore certain types of information. The spirit of the law seems generous, but its practicality seems scant.

The New York Times makes a good point that Germany’s nazi past makes them sensitive to cataloging citizens’ personal information. But even so, and even among a people with a fair degree of respect for the law, it seems a stretch to believe that business people, whose profits depend on good employees, will actually abide by it.

They could very easily discover though a social network that Hans-Peter loves to party at Tanz-Zentrum in Stuttgart, then call in sick the next day and spend it bad-mouthing his employer online. (Although, in all fairness, who doesn’t?) Instead of telling him they’ve discovered this, wouldn’t they just say his experience wasn’t a good fit?

However, with such a law on the books it would make it possible for anyone who felt they had missed out on a job opportunity they should have gotten due to someone “spying” on them in a social network, to take the company in question to court.

Written by Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, German Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s office publicly backed the law yesterday. It goes to the Bundestag for discussion and could be law by the end of the year. Other elements of the law include a ban on videotaping employees without their knowledge.

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