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More Privacy
(March 04, 2003) -
-  After last week's article on privacy issues, we got a note from Frank Heasley, the tireless founder of Medzilla:

While I agree with much of what you said, there is one point that requires clarification.

Your stated that the "Trouble is that Medzilla was protecting its own intellectual property (the resume database) and not the rights of Medzilla users."

This is, in fact, not the case.

MedZilla has been in the forefront of candidate privacy from the very start, when we implemented the first (and still one of the very few) policies of notifying candidates whenever their resumes are downloaded or viewed. We have always believed that people deserve to know who is reading their information, and our technology was built from the very start with this in mind.

If we could have found a way to prosecute them based on privacy issues, we would certainly have done so. As it turned out, the most powerful tools available to us were breach of contract, fraud, violation of copyright and unfair competition.

The fact that we pursued them on those issues does not, in any way, detract from the issue of privacy, which is also of paramount concern to us.

Sincerely, Frank Heasley, Ph.D. President, CEO MedZilla Inc.

While we're tempted to quibble, Medzilla has always been at the forefront of the privacy policy debate. This is a question that will not go away and will shape our industry's future.

We're surprised by the degree to which Europe is really leading the way on this one. European law supports extreme management for personal information. Meanwhile job boards are selling memberships to email marketers and companies treat personal information from candidates as an annoyance, not a resource.

The investment that a person makes in your company begins with entrusting her personal information into your care. While in your database, that information is still the property of the person who entrusted it to your care. It must be treated with care and respect.

There is movement, in other parts of the net, to set standards regarding the use of personal information. One suggestion is the "You First Digital Pledge" (which suggests that companies, in general, make the following promises):

  1. Your digital ID is yours. You own it. Only you get to decide who knows what about you.
  2. To do business with us, you need only give us the minimum information required to complete the transaction.
  3. If we then want more information about you, we will explain clearly what we want, why we want it, what we will do with it, how it benefits you, and any ways it might not benefit you.
  4. We recognize that if providing us with additional information benefits us, we need to compensate you for that information in some way that we both freely agree on.
  5. We respect your privacy absolutely. We will never share what we know of you with anyone else without your explicit ("opt-in") permission.
The employment world is more complex. Already managed, in part, by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, candidates have clear rights to know who is using their information and what it contains. Expect a great deal of focus in this area.

- John Sumser  

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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