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Germany Proposes Law to Ban Employers From Spying on Facebook Profiles

drunk girl passed outOur commenters give us a lot of heat for hating on Facebook (e.g., "Whassamatta, AOL? Jealouz??"), but we have to admit that, from time to time, we love to use the social network to stalk. And, frankly, who doesn't? Employers have known for a few years now that some of the best insight into a job applicant's life is through their unvarnished Facebook profile. Those knee-jerk rants and party pics continue to keep people out of gainful employment.

But not for much longer -- in Germany, at least. A proposed law would prohibit employers from 'friending' prospective employees, and basing their hiring decisions on private postings. The legislation comes as a reaction to the recent wave of public outrage over online privacy infractions in Germany, including Google Street View's recent inclusion of 20 German cities to its database. But, reportedly, employers have also been reading workers' e-mails, and monitoring them via video surveillance while they step out for a smoke. The pending law would criminalize those practices as well.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told the AP on Wednesday that the potential law would be difficult to execute, since searches of public information would still be legal for employers. (Public profiles and business networks, such as LinkedIn, would not be considered out of bounds.) And only secret video surveillance would be prohibited, especially in private spaces like locker rooms; but, as long as employees know the whereabouts of cameras, companies will still be able use them to monitor public areas.

But the law would grant recourse to job applicants who suspect they've been shot down because of their private profile, and would impose fines of up to $381,150 (€300,000) on companies that violate the new video surveillance rules. That's great news for employment-seeking young Germans who still want to post pictures of themselves passed out in a furry costume with a bottle of 99 Bananas clinging to their lips. So support the new privacy law, Deutschlanders. Your incriminating photos want to be free.

Tags: ban, employers, facebook privacy, FacebookPrivacy, germany, law, legislation, socialnetworking, surveillance, Thomas de Maiziere, ThomasDeMaiziere, top