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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


The Electronic Recruiting News is a Free Daily Newsletter For Recruiters, HR Managers, Advertising Agencies and Clasified Advertising Operations

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(February 25, 2003) -
-  We've been following the exploits of a self-proclaimed privacy advocate for years now. It's really not that we disagree profoundly with her world-view. Rather, the shrillness is so 'chicken-little' that we worry that her approach sets the world back a couple of years each time she mounts a new Don Quixote charge at the latest windmill. We discovered in our last look that she loves to threaten the use of lawyers..

In a relatively recent report entitled "Resume Database Nightmare: Job Seeker Privacy at Risk" she attempts to make a large stew out of a very small rodent. The material concerns a breach of the Medzilla users agreement by a fellow hoping to build a job board business. The report traces the legal actions taken by the good folks at Medzilla and then attempts to turn it into something else.

Medzilla sued the interloper and won. Trouble is that Medzilla was protecting its own intellectual property (the resume database) and not the rights of Medzilla users. 

Anyone who runs an operation in this industry is fully aware of the various and sundry raids on databases and the various means used to protect those databases. We've heard far too many conversations about 'laundering intellectual property' to believe that there are many companies that have not engaged in the practice. Medzilla deserves a round of applause for successfully defending themselves. Any suggestion that they were protecting any interests but their own is pure PR spin.

We agree that the times are changing and that privacy is an issue whose time has come.

When our shrill correspondent gives suggestions for job hunters in the report, she really loses us. Raising the specter of resume related identity theft (without a single example of this ever happening), she suggests recourse through the FTC. This is fear-mongering of the worst sort.

But, it's time we cleaned up our acts. Just because the current witch hunter is not very credible doesn't mean that there won't be a witch hunt. It's time, right now, for a tightening of data security, privacy and data disposition policies that have some meat.

Every site that accepts resumes should

  • Tell users exactly what their rights are
  • Offer dispute resolution details
  • Define the length of time that a resume will be stored
  • Define the resume destruction process
  • Agree to notify the resume owner at the point of destruction
  • Define procedures used to keep resume data secure
  • Define exactly who is and isn't a customer for that data

This means corporate sites as well as job boards and search firms. We've entered the 21st Century and it's time that our practices reflected it. If you think that you are developing useful policies on this front, please let us know.

- John Sumser  

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
Mill Valley, CA 94941

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