Data Privacy: An Often Overlooked Issue in Remote Hiring

Data Privacy in remote hiring

In the rush for companies to provide remote work options in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, an often-overlooked aspect of such a process is the security and privacy of data. Just as company data needs to be kept private and secure, the data of your potential candidates and current workers should be kept similarly safe.

While there are some international and state-level laws requiring you to protect the data of employees, this legislation is not all-encompassing. To maintain the ethics of your practice, you must protect remote hire data from misuse and exploitation, piggybacking off existing laws to offer a truly comprehensive security environment for all remote workers.

Here, we will discuss the privacy laws that currently exist involving data privacy and explore the ways businesses can fulfill these requirements and more. We’ll also offer tips and strategies so that your business can maintain data privacy even in our cyber-crime-stricken world.

Data Privacy Laws and Regulations

From the beginning of the remote hiring process, it should be made clear both company-wide and to the public that personal data will be kept private and secure. These measures act not only to fulfill international requirements but to create an ethical environment for all workers.

One of the key points to cover in your remote work policy should be the management of data. Since cybercrime has grown by up to 350% since the onset of the pandemic, the viability of remote work is dependent upon the maintenance of workable security standards. At the very minimum, this means following the guidelines of the General Data Protection Regulation agreement and other codified privacy measures.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a model adopted by the European Union in 2016. It has served as general good practice since, guiding policy for a variety of nations outside of Europe.

While United States employers do not necessarily have to adhere to elements of the GDPR when doing business nationally, any company looking to go beyond the borders of the US should understand these guidelines. Even within the states, employers would do well to take note of these regulations and how if they can feasibly integrate them in their own practices. This has the added benefit of providing a greater protective umbrella against liability claims.

In short, the GDPR mandates expectations involving data collection and handling. These include de-personalizing data so that it cannot be re-applied to individuals, as well as limiting the storage of data to what is immediately necessary and usable. 

For doing business within the EU, a record of GDPR compliance must be maintained. This requires proof of practices securing data for business accountability. For those that fail to provide this proof, it could mean a fine up to €220 million or 4% of your annual turnover rate, whichever is higher.

Additionally, the GDPR consists of seven key principles. These are:

  1. Transparent lawfulness
  2.  Purpose limitation
  3.  Data minimization
  4.  Accuracy
  5.  Storage limitation
  6.  Integrity and confidentiality in cybersecurity
  7.  Accountability

These are the core principles that govern the data policies that should be at the heart of every company’s data approach, whether they hire remotely or not. 

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

Like the GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was passed to reduce the risk of fraud for individual consumers by mandating privacy accountability. As of 2018, the CCPA gives consumers more control over their personal information by ensuring privacy rights such as:

  •  Knowing where personal information is collected and how it is shared.
  •  Maintaining the ability to delete collected personal information, with minor exceptions. 
  •  Being able to opt-out of the sale of personal information.
  •  Having security in the non-discrimination of CCPA rights.

While this act only explicitly covers Californians, the vast consumer and job markets within California all but require any business that wants to broaden its consumer base to maintain compliance with these policies.

Ensuring a business’s compliance means building these rights into all of your data processes. Following this model ensures that you are compliant with California’s guidelines and will set your business up for success should additional legislation be passed with similar provisions.

Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act (SHIELD)

Like the superhero agency that shares its acronym, the SHIELD Act was built to prevent security threats. This legislation is a new set of requirements for New York residents that took effect in March 2020. It requires that covered businesses implement and maintain safeguards to promote the integrity of private information for New York residents.

Per the SHIELD Act, the definition of private information includes:

  • A username or email address paired with information securing access
  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Account or credit card number
  • Biometric information.

The focus of this legislation is on providing reasonable safeguards. Proving compliance requires showing an attempt (within reason) to provide administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to help promote the privacy of all electronic information.

Once again, whether or not you are a covered business in New York, adhering to standards like these ensures you will be able to do electronic business and hire remote employees without pause. In turn, you can protect your company from potential issues, should similar legislation pass at a federal level in the future.

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Handling Data in Remote Hiring

A wide diversity of data exists in the world of remote hiring. Prospective hires share some of their most personal information in an application. This often includes things like personal address, phone number, email address, birth date, and even social security number. On any digital platform, such information is particularly at risk due to its valuable nature.

To handle data for remote hiring privacy, employers must consider the security of all identifying or authoritative credentials. This even includes things like digital signatures, which must be encrypted and pass through a verification system in order to protect employees and your business from fraud.

To better help you manage the often-overlooked issue of data privacy in remote hiring, we’ve assembled a few tips here: 

Tips for Successful Privacy Practices

  1. Research your file-sharing service. For any business with remote workers, it is almost impossible to get away without using some sort of file-sharing service. These range in price and accessibility and include such popular platforms as Google Drive and Dropbox. While every service offers different features, each has its own history of promoting security and privacy. Do your research before deciding on the best team file-sharing tool for your business.
  1. Train all employees in cybersecurity awareness. In the feeding frenzy of cybercrime that has been 2020, every employee will stand to gain from basic cybersecurity common sense and awareness training. In healthcare, all personnel must protect patient data through cybersecurity literacy due to the abundance of attacks on the industry and the resulting damages caused by those attacks. Whether your personnel consists of nurses in a facility or data entry clerks working from home, cybersecurity awareness is essential.
  1. Use all available and reasonable cybersecurity measures. From multi-factor authentication to basic firewalls, a range of cybersecurity tools exist at your disposal that will help you maintain an air-tight security plan for your remote business. Use VPNs and provide them to your remote workers and candidates. If this is not feasible, encourage them to acquire their own. Even consider using a blockchain system for more highly immutable secure data solutions. 

Following these tips will not guarantee that data remains secure and private. No system can provide 100% safety. However, by taking these basic steps, remote employers can better ensure a functioning digital workplace that keeps employee security at the forefront of its values.

Managing Data Privacy in Remote Hiring

While often overlooked, the importance of data privacy cannot be overstated. In the wake of the pandemic, digital workplaces have become a target for cybercriminals like never before. Showing both your prospective and current remote employees that their personal information matters will help you maintain the integrity of your business while encouraging a broader culture of cybersecurity awareness. 

If you are looking for the remote work best practices and ways to help your remote team succeed, DistantJob’s VP of operations, Rustam Ahverdiev is offering a free remote leadership masterclass.  As the saying goes, the train only passes once, so don’t miss this amazing opportunity. 

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Jori Hamilton

Jori Hamilton

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to remote team management, employee recruitment, and business productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.