Thursday, August 26, 2010

Germany weighs bill to outlaw spying on employees

A draft bill in Germany would crack down on employers who use hidden cameras or social networking to spy on employees. Germany would become the first country to forbid Facebook content to be used for hiring purposes.

Undercover spies and hidden video cameras - it sounds like the stuff of a James Bond movie. But for some German employees, it's just another day at work.

In recent years, a series of workplace spying scandals have come to light, several involving high-profile companies like the telecommunications firm Deutsche Telekom, the discount retailer Lidl and the national railway operator Deutsche Bahn.

"Until now, it has not been regulated, in what capacity and under what conditions an employer can use video surveillance to collect information about his employees," parliamentarian Christian Ahrendt of the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) told Deutsche Welle.

In response to the scandals, the governing coalition has proposed a draft law on Wednesday that would better regulate workplace privacy. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the new law would be beneficial for both parties.

"It's a balanced compromise among the various interests and will foster more trust in the workplace between employer and employee," de Maiziere told reporters.

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