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What’s Your Ethics Code on Personal Privacy?

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What’s Your Ethics Code on Personal Privacy?

Have you seen this story: “Job seekers getting asked for Facebook passwords”? A job applicant is being interviewed, and the hiring manager asks for the would-be employee’s login to Facebook. To quote the article, “In their efforts to vet applicants, some companies and government agencies are going beyond merely glancing at a person’s social networking profiles and instead asking to log in as the user to have a look around.”

This is disturbing, especially in light of global efforts to tighten the lid on data privacy. Is this new hiring practice a test to see how easily you would give out private information? If an applicant is willing to give a total stranger access to their personal information like a Facebook account, how likely is the applicant to give up your company’s information once he’s hired?

Within our own company, our ethics code directly addresses “confidential information” and why it’s important to keep it confidential. We advocate the same mentality with codes we create for our clients. Our security policy regarding passwords spells it out in detail: “Passwords are the first line of defense for the protection of the company’s information and information system resources. Using good passwords will help reduce the possibility of unauthorized access to the company’s network infrastructure.”

So what are the ramifications of a potential employer asking you for your Facebook password? Give up personal information or not be hired? I probably would have asked the interviewer, “What is your company’s policy on sharing passwords or would you asking me that question be considered a violation of your code of conduct?” It would be interesting to see the interviewer’s stunned response. I am not sure employers are “linking” their interviewing practices with their codes of conduct.

As an employee, your role is to put your best foot forward and make the right decisions every day. In a world that is constantly changing, where business problems are more gray than black or white, your corporate code of conduct should guide an employee to make the right decisions. To ask an applicant for a personal password to “see” what the employee does outside of work is a little un-nerving. What are the intentions of the interviewer, what do they expect to gain by viewing this information? If the applicant has their profile set to private, they understand the importance of privacy and what should and should NOT be shared with the world… which means if they protect their personal information, they will also protect your company’s information.

If you are asking an applicant for this type of private information, what type of culture are you creating for your employees and customers alike, as it relates to the proprietary info that makes your business unique and successful?

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