Bosses who snoop on job applicants' Facebook or Twitter profiles could be breaching data protection laws, warn EU regulators
- Working party Article 29 said employers need 'legal ground' to search candidate
- Internet searches should be 'necessary and relevant' to performance of the job
- While not legally binding, Article 29 'very persuasive' as new data laws planned
- According to CareerBuilder, 70 per cent of employers search applicants' social media profiles
It could soon be against the law for employers to search social media for information on job applicants.
An EU working party named Article 29 declared that any data sourced from an internet search of candidates must be necessary and relevant to the performance of the job.
They must also have 'legal ground' before looking up social media profiles.
Though not legally binding, the guidelines put forward will influence changes planned for European data protection legislation.
Internet searches should be 'necessary and relevant' to the performance of the job, Article 29 said, and there must be 'legal ground' to search out candidates' social media profiles on the likes of Twitter (pictured)
The General Data Protection Regulation laws are set to come into effect from May 2018.
Recruitment firm CareerBuilder released a study last month showing that 70 per cent of employers use social media to screen job applicants.
It also revealed that 57 per cent of employers are less likely to interview a candidate they cannot find online and that 54 per cent have decided to turn down an applicant based on their internet presence.
Speaking to the BBC, Linklaters technology expert Peter Church said that while demanding passwords or making friends requests is 'unacceptable', it is much harder when it comes to 'public facing information'.
But Linklaters technology expert Peter Church said LinkedIn profiles were 'fair game' because they exist to help employers find staff. Pictured: The LinkedIn logo
He added: 'The general rules are that employers should inform applicants if they are going to look at social media profiles and give them the opportunity to comment. The searches should also be proportionate to the job being applied for.'
But Mr Church said LinkedIn profiles were 'fair game' because they exist to help employers find staff.
Phil Lee, data protection expert at Fieldfisher, told the Financial Times that while the Article 29 recommendations are not binding, they are nonetheless 'very persuasive'.
He added: 'They will influence how the national data protection authorities read the rules. In this case, they have said there must be a really good reason, relevant to the role concerned, for an employer to check someone's social media profiles.'
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