Courts: It's Ok To "Google" Employees
More than ever, it is important for people to know what "Google has on them". A recent court ruling indicates that employers can use data pulled up in a Google search.
Although the case centers on an appeal where the fired person was claiming purgery because the manager stated that they did not use Google data to determine to fire the employee, there were enough specifications already on record to terminate the employee and the Google data was ancillary to the main case. The idea that the manager did use Google to determine that the plaintiff had been fired from two previous positions, even if the data was not used in the summary judgment to fire.
In his appeal, Mullins contended that Valeria Capell, the Commerce Department official who was assigned to investigate the allegations against him, violated his "right to fundamental fairness" by using information about his prior work history that was gleaned from a Google search on Mullins' name. Information from the search engine showed that Mullins had been fired from the Smithsonian Institution and from a civil service job with the U.S. Air Force. Source: CSO On Line
Knowing how hard it is to fire a Federal employee, the ability to use data stored in search engines to help build out the ancillary case against the employee means that at will employees who stray from the corporate standards of ethics and brag about it will be much easier to fire in the future.
In the final analysis of the event via CSO magazine, while the data was not used to determine if the employee should be fired, the use of it as supplemental information has a pivotal role in how Human Resources departments handle data. Since most job candidates do not know why they were not picked up, odds are most likely that they will not know if the employer is using Google data to make decisions. This is where the person who is looking for a job needs to manage their own public relations.
The key things here are to be aware of what is out there with your name associated to it and to be very aware of what you have posted that is in the public realm. As we all become our own public relations managers for ourselves the awareness that we need to have over our public personas becomes more important than it ever has before. The ability of computing systems and deep storage of data means that taking care of your public image might mean the difference between employment and not getting the job.
Most of us are not used to managing their own public personality, or self censoring ourselves thinking about how our comments or writings can come back allowing others to form an opinion as to how the person writing thinks or behaves.
Most of us are going to forget what we posted last year, or even years before that. It is always interesting to me to go back and see the things I posted in 1999 in some of the security forums as that was a transition period from military service to regular commercial work. If I can see what I wrote back then, then so can my employer, and so can anyone else who is interested in the evolution of what I have written over the years.
This is interesting for me, as there is no statute of limitations for anything I have posted on the internet. Moreover, trying to dredge up stuff from so long ago, let alone even trying to remember some of what I have written can prove to be problematic. If it sounds like what I might have said, then I will try to remember it, but I am not really going to remember everything I have ever written. What is interesting is defending the viewpoint many years later, especially if I have changed my mind or data later on shows that the initial idea was flawed in some respects.
People need to start managing their own Public Relations, and show the side of them that they want to show to the world. This also means controlling what you post on the internet, and in many ways, self-censoring what you might want to say because odds are most likely it will be something you will see many years down the road.
View All Articles by Dan Morrill
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About the Author:
Dan Morrill has been in the information security field for 18 years, both
civilian and military, and is currently working on his Doctor of Management.
Dan shares his insights on the important security issues of today through
his blog, Managing
Intellectual Property & IT Security, and is an active participant in the
ITtoolbox blogging community.
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