Home > Uncategorized > A Slippery Slope – Global Background Screening and Data Privacy

A Slippery Slope – Global Background Screening and Data Privacy


A colleague in Europe recently asked why some U.S., in-country local, regional, and even global employee screening firms purport to offer or present services for some products like criminal and credit reports that are either illegal to access or not permissible for employment purposes in a number of countries?

The answer, unfortunately can be rather complex and sometimes conflicting with what may be permissible in the U.S. as compared to a given geography. The challenge is that there are very few specific laws governing background screening in many countries around the globe today. Legal opinions vary depending on how familiar counsel may be on the topic and their interpretation of current legislation within local and international employment and privacy contexts. It may be further complicated by whether an applicant or employee is an expatriate (i.e. is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of their citizenship.). There are however various pieces of legislation as it relates to the background check process. These areas may include, but are not limited to personal privacy, human rights, employment legislation, regulations governing access to criminal and credit data, consumer reporting, and rehabilitation of ex-offenders, sex, family, religion, discrimination, and disabilities to name just a few.

The reality is that the business practice and the industry at the global level as compared to the US and UK market is still very much at an emerging stage. Even with advances in high-technology that occur at lightning fast speed laws and regulations governing technology and background screening develop at what seems like a snail’s pace. This is highlighted by the on-going legal issues related to social media sites like Facebook, Google, and the online taxi service Uber and Lyft. These advances quickly outdated many slowly developing legal doctrines around the globe.

Companies operating in the Global Background Screening space today often struggle to strike a balance between finding a source of information that’s cost effective for a client’s request versus performing adequate due diligence of local environments before offering service. To further compound the situation, employers and buyers of these services are seeking to streamline global recruitment and procurement processes and save money by automating and centralizing the human resource function, while at the same time looking to the background screening provider for best practice advice as it relates to local background screening practices.

The first step to working through any of these issues is to understand the questions that must be asked whether as a screening provider or a multinational or global employer and then to develop a method of examining the issues we’ve discussed to find solutions that are practical for each particular organization. There is no “right” answer or “no magic bullet” to global background screening and data privacy / security compliance. Each organization must find a solution that works within its culture, technology, and business and then based on the resources as well as the level of risk the organization is willing to accept.

As providers of global background screening services we have a duty and an obligation that if we are to offer such services for any number of geographies that we undertake the necessary due diligence in finding out the right answers to all of these questions versus telling a client what we think they want to hear. Be certain that screening providers demonstrate much more than just a passing knowledge of local legal and cultural environments related to background screening.

Copyright © 2015 Aletheia Consulting Group

Aletheia Consulting Group provides expert cost effective global advisory solutions for multinational organization human resource, compliance, privacy, and security risk management resource needs. Our primary focus is on companies that have overseas operations that seek to navigate the sometimes challenging sea of international risk management involving the people, processes, technology and organization. If you’d like to learn more about our Services for Multinational Employers please feel free to contact us at Terry.Corley@me.com.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: