German companies to be banned from checking Facebook

Aug 31 2010 by Brian Amble Print This Article

If you're one of those party animals who can't resist recording your every exploit and posting the evidence for the world to see on Facebook, you might want to consider looking for your next job in Germany.

Because a proposed new law shortly to go before the German parliament will make it illegal for employers from checking out job applicant's private Facebook (and other social media) pages as part of a wider crack-down on the misuse of private data by corporations.

Employers would still be able to use search engines in order to gather information on an individual from the public domain, which apparently is deemed to include information on professional networks such as LinkedIn.

The legislation, which received the backing of the German Cabinet last week, also includes a ban on secret video surveillance at work following a series of scandals in which large companies were found to be spying on employees.

Discount-supermarket chain Lidl, car manufacturer Daimler, telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom and state-owned railway operator Deutsche Bahn were among the companies found to have installed secret cameras at in places such as checkout-desks, fitting rooms and toilets.

Companies will also be forbidden from monitoring staff communications without their knowledge.

Germany's data protection watchdog, Peter Schaar, said that the proposed changes were long overdue and described them as "a substantial improvement on the status quo in dealing with employee's data".

How such a law would be enforced, however, is anyone's guess.