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Child Charities Stand Against Web 'Intelligence Gathering'

People shouldn't lose opportunities because of something they wrote on MySpace at age 14, consortium says

It's become a regular business practice: Schools and businesses crawl the Web to conduct "due diligence" on the applicants they see in their offices. But is it really fair to judge a recruit by something he posted in a snit on a social networking site at age 14?

A group of children's charities in the U.K. say it's not. According to a report in The Times, a powerful coalition of children’s charities is urging government officials to make it illegal for companies to trawl Facebook and other social networking Websites for information on prospective recruits.

The organizations say it isn't fair for employers and educational establishments to browse the Internet, looking for "digital dirt" on young people who have applied for positions.

The eight charities acted partly in response to a report in The Times that revealed one in five employers uses the Internet to check on candidates, and two thirds of those who did said that their decisions were influenced by what they found.

"When young people put up their personal profiles, they are not thinking about job or university applications," said John Carr, secretary of the Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety, who is coordinating the campaign. "Typically, they are simply talking to their mates. Employers or admissions tutors who delve into these places are being highly and inappropriately intrusive. It’s a bit like looking at someone’s diary."

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

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