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.
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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.
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.
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