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Never Mind Paper Trails: The Internet Has A Longer Memory

In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: Never Mind Paper Trails: The Internet Has A Longer Memory
2. Today's Top Story
    - More Dangerous Rootkits May Lurk On Horizon
    Related Stories:
    - Backdoors, Bots Biggest Threats To Windows
    - Yahoo Mail Worm Harvesting Addresses
3. Breaking News
    - National Semi Rewards Employees With iPods
    - Microsoft: Vista Downloads Maxing Out Its Servers
    - Microsoft Recasts Its Security Products For Business
    - Photoshop Wannabes: Five Low-Cost Image Editors
    - Job Site Monster Joins Companies Under Options Review (Reuters)
    - Cablevision Sues Hollywood For 'Betamax-Like' Rights
    - Network Neutrality Suffers Another Defeat
    - Google Wants Your PC To Listen To Your TV
    - IT Confidential: Adware Vs. Spyware: Who's Making The Money?
    - Norway Tells Apple To Change iTunes Compatibility
    - Famed Microsoft Blogger Leaves For Startup (Reuters)
    - Microsoft Tech Chief: Hosted Software Offers Opportunities, But Challenges
4. Grab Bag
    - Net Neutrality: Meet The Winner
    - Cube With A View
    - The Pornographers Versus The Pirates
5. In Depth: H-1B Visas
    - Why We Need The H-1B
    - An H-1B Worker Tells About Risks
    - Where An H-1B Visa Holder Comes From Matters
    - One H-1B Visa Holder's Quest For A Green Card
    - Another New Bill Tries To Raise Cap On H-1B Visas
    - U.S. Hits H-1B Visa Cap For Fiscal 2007
6. Voice Of Authority
    - Is Dell In Serious Trouble?
7. White Papers
    - Spyware Has Taken Over My Computer! The Problem And Growth Of Spyware
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"You already have zero privacy. Get over it." -- Scott McNealy


1. Editor's Note: Never Mind Paper Trails: The Internet Has A Longer Memory
Should employers be entitled to look up their prospective hires' profiles on MySpace.com and other social networking sites? Or has an important line been crossed—both ethically and legally?

A career counselor at New York University, who routinely deals with recruiters from major corporations, said that dozens of companies were checking out social networks and personal Web sites before deciding who to hire, according to the New York Times. And when describing what they were looking for, she used some alarming words: "lifestyle" and "core values." What's worrisome is the subjectivity of such words. How easy it would be for an HR professional—no matter what political, religious, or social leanings he or she had—screening out people on the basis of things that are legally off-bounds.

People who say this is absolutely kosher put forth the argument that people should take responsibility for what they voluntarily put out in the online world. Very true. But I'm not sure I agree that gives employers unrestricted license to go behind applicants' backs and get private information that they couldn't—legally—get any other way.

Because there are strict laws about what is permissible to ask on an employment application—and many, many restrictions imposed on employers about what they can ask in an interview. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, discrimination falls into the following categories: age, disability, equal pay, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, retaliation, sex and sexual harassment. But with the new online avenues for finding out such things as marital status, whether someone is over 40 years old, or their religious or political beliefs, those restrictions are rendered moot.

What's new about this? After all, it's common practice for employee-seeking companies to pay to do background checks on job candidates' criminal or driving records, or whether they are registered sex offenders.

But now companies are seeking the sometimes very personal "online personas" that people have created over years of Web use. Although the New York Times article focused specifically on what people have posted on social networks such as MySpace and Facebook, this practice encompasses everything from information posted on personal Web sites, to blogs, discussion boards and—more recently—podcasts and contributions to wikis.

You see, the problem is, the Internet doesn't forget. There's an electronic trail of such voluntarily divulged attitudes and opinions and activities that is never erased (in doubt of that? check out the Internet archive Wayback Machine) and always accessible by a diligent researcher. And unlike overt privacy violations like stolen social security numbers or blatantly unscrupulous trafficking in personal information gathered by online vendors or Web sites, the information in question is being voluntarily posted for all the world to see. So it's a very nebulous area.

What do you think? Do you believe that employers are free to access and use any publicly available information to make hiring decisions? Or might they go too far in seeking out such data? Let me know by responding to my blog.

Alice LaPlante
alice.laplante@gmail.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

More Dangerous Rootkits May Lurk On Horizon
Rootkits aren't inherently evil. But malcontents are getting better at using them, and rootkits are getting harder to detect.

Related Stories:
Backdoors, Bots Biggest Threats To Windows
Almost two-thirds of PCs that had an infection were infected by a backdoor Trojan, according to Microsoft.

Yahoo Mail Worm Harvesting Addresses
The "Yamanner" worm exploits a JavaScript vulnerability in Yahoo's Web mail client. Users should watch out for messages with a "From" address of av3@yahoo.com and the subject line, "New Graphic Site."


3. Breaking News

National Semi Rewards Employees With iPods
National said the iPods will be used as training and communications tools, allowing employees to download National podcasts and other communications.

Microsoft: Vista Downloads Maxing Out Its Servers
Order the DVD instead, Microsoft says, as downloads of Windows Vista Betz 2 cause the company's servers to experience extremely high demand.

Microsoft Recasts Its Security Products For Business
The company's PC, server and network security products get rebranded under the Forefront name.

Photoshop Wannabes: Five Low-Cost Image Editors
Adobe's Photoshop may be the standard for imaging editing, but there are other applications out there that can do the same job for a lot less money. We reveal the best of the bunch.

Job Site Monster Joins Companies Under Options Review (Reuters)
Monster said Monday it had been subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney and pledged to cooperate fully with the inquiry. The investigation now involves some 40 companies.

Cablevision Sues Hollywood For 'Betamax-Like' Rights
Cablevision says its digital video recording system is similar to Betamax, and therefore does not violate copyright and fair use laws.

Network Neutrality Suffers Another Defeat
House rejects amendment to telecom bill on net neutrality.

Google Wants Your PC To Listen To Your TV
The Web search and advertising giant sees an opportunity to provide personalized information and ads.

IT Confidential: Adware Vs. Spyware: Who's Making The Money?
What's the hottest growth area these days? It's the intersection of Technology, Privacy, and The Law.

Norway Tells Apple To Change iTunes Compatibility
If Apple doesn't make its songs playable on all music devices by June 21, it faces fines which would then be followed by court action.

Famed Microsoft Blogger Leaves For Startup (Reuters)
Robert Scoble, who supporters claim helped open up Microsoft's culture in new ways, is leaving the firm to join a podcasting start-up.

Microsoft Tech Chief: Hosted Software Offers Opportunities, But Challenges
In a speech to IT pros, Ray Ozzie talks of switching back and forth between software services and apps running on business computers.

All Our Latest News

Watch The News Show

In the current episode:

John Soat with "It All Makes Sense"
The FCC wins surveillance case appeal, MSFT fails to communicate aspects of "Windows Genuine Advantage" and more...

Nick Hoover with "Security Balancing Act"
Verizon business security officer talks about the security challenges businesses face every day.


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4. Grab Bag

Net Neutrality: Meet The Winner (CNET)
Thomas Tauke, Verizon Communications' executive vice president for public affairs, policy and communications, has spent the last few months arguing against Net neutrality. And now he's won.

Cube With A View (Forbes)
With sales declining precipitously year after year, the future is grim for the hated workplace enclosure first introduced in the late 1960s.

The Pornographers Versus The Pirates (BusinessWeek)
Smut giants are showing mainstream Hollywood how to fight back against illegal downloads and copying.


5. In Depth: H-1B Visas

In Depth: Why We Need The H-1B
The U.S. IT industry needs a free flow of talent—probably more free than we have. That'll take addressing the abuse, fear and retraining problems that stand in the way.

Profile: An H-1B Worker Tells About Risks
Economic risks include paying into Social Security with the possibility of not being able to stick around to receive a retirement check.

Profile: Where An H-1B Visa Holder Comes From Matters
This worker came from Holland, where he was already working for the Dutch operations of a U.S. company.

Profile: One H-1B Visa Holder's Quest For A Green Card
The wait for a green card can last years, but this worker says it's worth it.

Another New Bill Tries To Raise Cap On H-1B Visas
The Skil Bill aims to unencumber H-1B visas from other immigration reform issues.

U.S. Hits H-1B Visa Cap For Fiscal 2007
As Congress wrangles over details for comprehensive immigration reform, the country reached the 65,000 limit on H-1B visas.


6. Voice Of Authority

Is Dell In Serious Trouble?
Darrell Dunn puts forth the hypothesis that early June will serve as the "tipping point" for Dell. His main questions: Can Dell leverage its newly announced line of servers to maintain its leadership position in the PC industry? Or are its recent well-publicized financial stumbles signaling the beginning of a decline? Read his blog to see what he thinks.


7. White Papers

Spyware Has Taken Over My Computer!—The Problem And Growth Of Spyware
Because of its popularity, the Internet has become an ideal target for advertising. As a result, spyware, or adware, has become increasingly prevalent. When troubleshooting problems with your computer, you may discover that the source of the problem is spyware software that has been installed on your machine without your knowledge. Here's what to do about it.


8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek

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