Recruit Career’s sloppy handling of personal information troubling

The Yomiuri ShimbunIt is an act that shows little understanding of the importance of protecting personal information and may lose the trust of those students currently engaged in job-hunting activities.

Tokyo-based Recruit Career Co., operator of the online job information site Rikunabi, used artificial intelligence to forecast the probability rate that students registered with the site will decline tentative job offers, and sold the forecast data to 38 companies.

The country’s job market remains a sellers’ market with work-seeking students having an advantage. For companies, it is a matter of concern whether students to whom they have made tentative job offers will decline such offers. This was a business designed to meet such demand.

The problem was the sloppy handling of personal information by Recruit Career.

Using AI, Recruit Career analyzed the data supplied by contracted companies concerning those students they had screened in the previous year to get an idea of their likely behavior. Having done so, Recruit Career examined how those students engaged in job-hunting activities browsed the firms they wish to join or information concerning other firms, then assessed in five grades the probability of their declining job offers and supplied this data to these firms.

The Law on the Protection of Personal Information prohibits a business operator handling personal information from providing personal data to a third party without obtaining the prior consent of the person.

Rikunabi has claimed that it obtained the prior consent of registered members, as it has stated in its terms of membership that it may provide companies with personal data of its members so as to assist the companies’ recruiting activities. But it would be difficult for member students to perceive, with this description alone, that such analysis concerning their possible refusal of job offers would be handed over to companies.

Moreover, the company had not even obtained the prior consent from about 8,000 students, which constituted a violation of the law. There are voices from among students saying the company has betrayed their trust. It is reasonable that Recruit Career has discontinued the selling of the forecast data.

Higher ethics needed

Recruit Career said it had contracted firms promise that they would not use such data for screening the students who apply, but it will be difficult for this to win understanding from students.

The company has not disclosed either the total number of students whose data concerning their possible refusal of job offers were sold or the list of contracted companies. It is essential for the company to explain how it has brought about the latest scandal and the causal factors.

Online sites for job-hunting activities can now be considered as basic infrastructure linking students and businesses. Rikunabi, with which about 800,000 people are registered annually, is positioned to lead this industry. It should be aware of its grave responsibility.

Thanks to technological advancements, it has become possible to conduct business by making use of collected data. In handling such data, however, even higher ethics are called for.

Also to be called into question are the actions of the contracted companies that have provided Recruit Career with personal data concerning their recruiting.

The guidelines of the Employment Security Law, which stipulate how employment management should be conducted, lay down the need for employment-related entities to take appropriate measures to manage the personal information of job seekers. The Tokyo Labor Bureau has launched an investigation into Recruit Career. It is also expected to probe the contracted firms.

In a data-driven society, individual preferences, behavioral patterns and the like are analyzed in diverse ways and made use of. In utilizing online sites of high convenience, it is important for individuals to confirm how their personal information will be used.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 14, 2019)Speech


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