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Magnifying glass over job ads

Hong Kong employers risk jail time for “blind” job ads

A number of employers in Hong Kong who failed to identifying themselves – or their recruitment agency – in job postings have been issues enforcement notices for the practice, which had led to growing concern over data usage.

The Privacy Commission of Hong Kong said it investigated 71 ‘blind’ job ads after concerns of privacy data, identity theft and direct marketing.

It found 48 of those ads to be in breach of legislation; 18 were non-compliant of the Data Protection Principle 1(2) of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, 13 employers claimed they were ignorant of the legal requirements, 10 blamed the recruitment agencies for not informing them of the regulations and seven argued the company’s identity could be identified from the initials or full company name in the return email address.

However, in a press statement, the commissioner said it did not accept the defense arguments and ordered all 48 employers to ” delete the personal data collected, unless it has to be retained for satisfying other legal requirements, or for a continuing recruitment process in which case the job applicant has to be informed and given the option to demand deletion of his personal data, regardless”.

Those who refuse to comply with the enforcement notice can face a maximum penalty of a $50,000 fine and two years imprisonment.

Allan Chiang, the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, said: “A job advertisement placed by an organisation serves to attract suitable candidates to fill the vacancy as well as to project its corporate image. A blind ad in this regard is counter-productive as it demonstrates the company’s ignorance of the law and a disrespect for privacy and data protection.

“Employers should therefore refrain from placing blind ads seeking job applicants’ personal data. Where there is a genuine need for employers to conceal their identity when advertising for job vacancies, they may resort to blind ads but use them to solicit job applicants’ enquiries rather than personal data.”

The Privacy Commission also released a leaflet to guide employers titled “Understanding the Code of Practice on Human Resource Management – Frequently Asked Questions About Recruitment Advertisements”.

Image: Shutterstock

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