Every now and then a social phenomenon comes along that captures the imagination of the masses. Sometimes it’s beyond comprehension. Like walking for hours to try and find a fictional anime creature on your phone. The game has taken over the inter-web. It has only been released in Australia, Aotearoa and America and it’s already on the verge of overtaking twitter in terms of daily active users on Android phones.
It’s the latest and newest offering of what they call augmented reality games – technology designed to augment real life. But already there are questions being raised on what data the company is collecting on the user. After all the game uses your GPS and clock to allow you to find Pokémon; and the gaming company is storing this information on where you go, how you got there, how long you stayed…and who else was there. In addition they know your email address, your IP address…what web page you last looked at before logging into the game, and in some instances it has access to your entire google account.
This means that in theory, they have read /write access to your email, Google Drive docs and more. For one thing, this makes it one hell of a target for hackers. Just think how attractive a database that allows access to your email and personal documents is to those of a nefarious inclination. BUT, when you agree to play the game you are also giving them permission to share your information with third parties (including the boys in blue if they want to). Whilst this is not necessarily unique (apparently Tinder does the same thing), with the sheer volume of users we have to be looking at one of the largest databases ever created. It is very clear that every day our privacy is being challenged.
Our right to privacy is still paramount and legal, but you have less and less control over who knows what about you and from when and how. Supermarkets track your shopping habits through your loyalty card swipes; Facebook targets advertising to you based on what you were looking at on Google last Wednesday evening and ‘harmless’ games the kids download for free on your tablet are quietly collating everything they can on where you are, who you are and what you do. And all of this happens whilst you are cooking dinner and arguing with your partner over the credit card bill. Things can go terribly wrong when your privacy is breached. And recruitment is not immune.
Earlier this year a recruitment company got into strife when files of unshredded documentation was found in unlocked bins behind a recently closed office. The files contained resumes, addresses, numbers, bank details and education records. This was a serious breach of privacy and a number of government departments got involved to investigate how the documents ended up lying in clear view of any passer-by. Let me be clear – 99.9% of recruitment businesses would NEVER allow sensitive and confidential information to be dumped in open skips behind their offices. So rest assured, this situation is a bit of an anomaly. BUT there are plenty of other ways recruiters can override your rights to privacy…so here are some tips to help you protect yourself when looking for a new job:
- A recruiter must have your explicit permission to reveal your information to a third party (this includes your resume)
- Recruitment companies invariably collate confidential data from you including (if you are temping) your bank account, tax file and superannuation details – you have the right to ensure that this information is correct and to update it at will
- You have the right to ask a recruitment company to destroy any information they may have on you if you no longer want to work with them – HOWEVER this may exclude payroll / payment information where companies are required to keep records for up to 7 years
What to do if you have any concerns? Professional recruitment businesses will have privacy policies available on their website and detail procedures to ensure you have access to your data to ensure that everything is true and up to date. In summary – companies know more about us than ever before. But this doesn’t mean that you do not have rights under legislation to protect your confidential data. Never be afraid of demanding the highest standards from the recruiters you deal with!