I was a little shocked to learn that potential employers were asking those they interviewed for their Facebook password. I don’t have anything damaging on my Facebook, but that’s a severe invasion of privacy and if I was asked that from the get-go, I wouldn’t continue interviewing with the company. If they are going to be that protective over Facebook, then I’m sure it wouldn’t be a working environment that would be conducive to productivity. I would think that most HR professionals themselves would feel incredibly uncomfortable asking for a Facebook professional and most large companies would be worried about a lawsuit, so this would be something done primarily by smaller businesses who perhaps have been burned by PR mishaps in the past.
The interesting thing about the Justia article is that there are already many laws in place to protect people against discrimination when hiring. By asking for that much private information, companies risk being sued for making decisions based on any information on that page. This goes along the same lines as there are certain questions you don’t answer in an interview process. For example, if a prospective employer asks a pregnant woman for their Facebook password and as a result finds out they are pregnant, the person being interviewed now has reasonable means to sue. From a business perspective, this has far more risk than it does reward in avoiding hiring certain people. To go further on that point, even if employers can see a public Facebook profile, they could base hiring decisions based on that information and if they reveal they have looked at a Facebook profile in any part of the hiring process, it could also lead to a lawsuit. From a legal/non-legal perspective, it’s actually not a huge concern of mine because I do think this sort of issue will take care of itself in the court of public opinion. Things hit the internet so quickly now that once employers are called out for asking that kind of private information, I’d expect less qualified applicants to apply for that company and company sales to ultimately decrease in reaction.
While I do think it makes sense to expand the Codes of Fair Information Practice, I think it will be very hard to stunt something that has arguably already grown too large to be stopped. There’s already a certain level of expectation by people since 9/11 that privacy will take a back seat to security and this can’t be clearer than the recent NSA revelations. The lack of overall outrage by the public shows that the expectation or privacy or protection of their data is no longer expected. In an academic lens, there may be a good system to protect privacy, but that becomes difficult when the public is not pining for something that could be potentially costly to large companies like Google and Facebook. It’s highly unfortunate to those that strongly care about their privacy, but for those that do, it’s likely they aren’t pushing that much information out there to begin with. I believe people should have a certain level of control in this new data reality, but logistically it will prove to be incredibly difficult.
While Instagram may have been given the power to sell your photos for ads at one point by their own policies, it sounds like that was not the direct intention as it would be detrimental to building up their user base. Instead it sounds like the intention would be for a company to have the ability to promote a picture that highlights one of their pictures. In this case, that should not be a very controversial item as the picture was put out there to the public in the first place. In the end, if you are posting your information to the public you cannot expect it to be fully private and not used for commercial purposes. The line is drawn when someone has posted things for private consumption or if they were very specific on how they wanted their data to be handled. Companies like Facebook and Instagram are providing a top notch service for “free,” so there has to be a way for them to earn revenue or it will prove to be an unsuccessful business model.
Heart gadgets are an interestingly tough item to handle when looking at privacy laws. While patients are the ones who are being studied, since they are not the actual patient, this provides the medical device companies the cover to avoid a costly process to receive their own data. The work of the heart gadget companies though scream of a potential HIPAA violation, but it isn’t due to the law being severely outdated. People should in fact have the ability to review their own files as the device acts as a depository for medical records in my opinion. The use of the quantitative data by the medical device company isn’t a huge concern since it does not include their personal information and other companies track quantitative data in a similar manner. For example, Facebook will track how many members they have and the actions they take on the network, but will not identify people individually. The big concern is the impact it could have on individuals if the information from the devices is given to insurance companies, which could impede their liberties. I would also think that Medtronic would have a greater concern in making sure that people are able to see their own information. If someone dies because their health insurance runs out and Medtronic refused to provide them with their own health information, they could be held liable as a result. The complacency on the issue seems to be a mistake on their part.
1. How would you react if an employer asked for your Facebook password and do you know of any companies who do this?
2. How do you feel about Medtronic’s attitude towards the concerns brought up by the Wall Street Journal article?