Business / Corporate

Recruit Career urged to make amends for selling job-seekers' browsing data without consent

JIJI

The Personal Information Protection Commission on Monday urged job data provider Recruit Career Co. to take corrective measures after it was found to have sold the web-browsing data of nearly 8,000 job seekers to client firms without their consent.

The data described the probability of students declining informal job offers based on data culled from 74,878 people who used Rikunabi, its job information website.

The practice broke the law on protecting personal data, the government panel said in its first instructions for corrective action since its establishment in 2016. The panel inspected the company on Aug. 20.

The panel called on the Tokyo-based media unit of Recruit Co. to review its organizational structure to ensure the rights of individuals are appropriately protected and to improve employee awareness, including in its management team. It also told Recruit Career to clearly explain to Rikunabi users how it offers their personal data to third parties.

Recruit Career must take concrete steps and report them to the panel by Sept. 30. The company said it plans to respond to the matter in an appropriate manner.

The service in question, Rikunabi DMP Follow, predicts the probability of students declining informal job offers they receive by analyzing their Rikunabi browsing histories using artificial intelligence.

Recruit Career’s AI calculated the probability of students declining informal job offers based on data from 74,878 users of its Rikunabi job information website. Information on 7,983 of the students was sold to third parties without their consent.

None of the 38 companies that bought the data in question used it to make hiring decisions involving the students, Kobayashi asserted at the company’s first news conference since the scandal broke earlier this month.

“We’re very sorry for causing trouble to many people, including students and companies,” Recruit Career President Daizo Kobayashi said at the Tokyo news conference Monday.

The scandal eroded public trust in the businesses “to a degree that their continuation could be jeopardized,” he said.

Kobayashi indicated he would remain president for the time being.

“I want to concentrate on changing our organization,” he said, admitting the company’s internal “checks were insufficient.”

Recruit Career is set to conduct a drastic review of its business for helping new graduates land jobs as early as January and is scheduled to name a privacy officer to supervise Rikunabi in October.

Recruit Career abolished the service on Aug. 4 and has been encouraging the 38 companies to destroy the data they bought.

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