All around the world, prospective employers
often use search engines to learn things about job applicants that cannot be discerned from the usual routine of resume, interview, and references.
All around the world? Maybe no longer in Finland,
the country with the strictest privacy laws in
the EU! Under the Protection of Privacy in
Working Life Act, an employer may collect
information on its employees or job applicants
primarily from the employees or job applicants
themselves. If "other sources" are used, consent
from the employee must be obtained.
Finnish Data Protection Ombudsman ruled in
November 2006 that employers can not use
information which is obtained by using Internet
search engines, such as Google.
The statement was given in response to a job
applicant’s complaint that a prospective
employer had used a five-year old news group
discussion posting found on the Internet to the
detriment of the applicant. In the news group
discussion posting, the applicant claimed to be
mentally unstable. During the job interview, the
applicant discovered that his potential new employer had documents resulting from an Internet search that referred to aspects of his personal life, including his participation in
a mental health conference (which he attended as a patient’s representative). However, the information at the employer’s disposal did not clarify the applicant’s status at the conference, leading the employer to
believe that the potential employee could have had a mental health disorder.