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UK Company Sold Workers' Secret Data

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the art-of-the-blacklist dept.

Privacy 122

krou writes "The BBC is reporting that the Information Commissioner's Office has shut down a company in the UK for a serious breach of the Data Protection Act. It claims that the company, The Consulting Association in Droitwich, Worcs, ran a secret system that it repeatedly denied existed for 15 years, selling workers' confidential data, including union activities, to building firms, allowing potential employers to unlawfully vet job applicants. About 3,213 workers were in the database, and other information included data on personal relationships, political affiliations, and employment histories. More than 40 firms are believed to have used the service, paying a £3,000 annual fee, and each of them will be investigated, too." The article says that The Consulting Association faces a £5,000 fine — after pulling in £1.8 million over 15 years with its illegal blacklist.

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5k fine, 1.8M in profits (5, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090391)

It's kind of hard to say "continue, please" louder than by slapping such an enormous fine.

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27090475)

Actually, it can get a lot worse for them, they can be forced to stop all data exports for a long investigation time. I was on a project receiving data for a rather large global company (who is making the news quite regularly these days) from all European markets as part of a pan Europe system. The data itself was nothing special, the company owned it in each market and was merely transferring it around within, yet one country data protection overlords somehow found protocol wasn't precisely being followed. I never found out exactly what was wrong, but that country's data wasn't able to be used for almost two years.

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (1)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090641)

Sounds like a solid business plan

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (0, Offtopic)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091129)

"Sounds like a solid business plan"

Well, it was. This is an old school method...currently being replaced by just scanning the internet in general, target searching on Facebook and the like.

As much as the old music industry is hurting with online distribution, so will services like this due to this kind of information being out there for free.

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 5 years ago | (#27094449)

Well, it was. This is an old school method...currently being replaced by just scanning the internet in general, target searching on Facebook and the like.

As much as the old music industry is hurting with online distribution, so will services like this due to this kind of information being out there for free.

I concur, I limit the amount of info on my social sites. It's neither safe nor is it ethical some of the practices or conclusions that these create. Does it really matter that someone dressed up on Halloween like a pirate, does that make them a software pirate? But that is what some dumb folk will say if they look on a facebook page of wacky drunkeness.

ok I am blaming the stupid here and....

oh wait thats ok. If they have no clue I wouldn't work for them anyway. If you have to rely on someone else to tell you who to hire you likely have to rely on someone else to tell you how to run your business. So pretty soon your company is screwed by your mismanagement for not hiring proper HR people and spending too much time on employee's personal lives then your core business. This sort of foolishness invites lawsuits and rightly so.

A company that has to pay out discrimination settlements wasn't run properly from the top down.

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27092487)

OK, 3,213 employees(and former employees, one would think) in the database. Forty firms are paying £3,000 on a yearly basis for information on that tiny little group... How often do those 3,213 people apply for new jobs?

These numbers are like Minnie Mouse, I think they're fu*king Goofy.

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (3, Informative)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 5 years ago | (#27092741)

those 3,213 employees are the ones who are blacklisted, that doesn't mean the employers are only checking 3213 potential employees.

and before anyone says those 3213 employees had it coming for being trouble makers - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7928331.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090673)

It's kind of hard to say "continue, please" louder than by slapping such an enormous fine.

What are the odds of the employers who illegally used said database being fined or punished in some way? Punish the people who used the database and you'll find that the next time someone offers up illegal information for sale they'll have a much harder time finding customers.

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (-1, Offtopic)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090777)

Yes, we should definitely not be punishing the people who were trying to illegally sell the data. That's preposterous!

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091399)

Umm, where did I say that?

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27092023)

- Punish the people who used the database and you'll find that the next time someone offers up illegal information for sale they'll have a much harder time finding customers. -
****************
Bullshit! That's the same argument they use about arresting "Johns" or small time pot smokers. Will never work.

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (1)

vishbar (862440) | more than 5 years ago | (#27092861)

This is a fundamentally different scenario. Johns/small-time pot smokers commit victimless crimes. The firms in this case are knowingly violating the privacy of each of these 3,000-plus workers. It would be more like prosecuting someone who attempts to hire a hitman.

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (1)

davolfman (1245316) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093757)

If it's the same small statutory fine, they could just pay it and keep going. It's not like this data is a product they're selling, this data is just a small HR cost with potentially large abusive rewards.

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (2)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090873)

I'm sure the lawsuits by the people on the list who have been denied employment because of it, will be much more helpful in making sure companies don't want to go this route again.

Inaccurate summary (5, Informative)

Apatharch (796324) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090967)

...what a surprise.

The article does not say that the company is being fined £5000; it's the owner himself who faces prosecution, and hence a criminal record.

Re:Inaccurate summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27091175)

The least they could do is feed his weiner to a pony AND fine him £5000

Re:Inaccurate summary (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091335)

Perhaps we could put the owner on some sort of blacklist...

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (2, Interesting)

u38cg (607297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091079)

I think the fine is a legal maximum; when the law was written it was never envisaged that a company would be abusing data in this way.

Am I right in thinking that a company doing this would, in general, be entirely legal in the US?

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091879)

What sort of moron would write a law where the penalty doesn't apply per incidence?

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093665)

The penalty does apply per incidence. There is once incidence. The prosecution is for failing to register the company with the data protection office, not for selling the data. And the summary also appears to be wrong to say that the DCO has closed down the company; all the report says is that it has already ceased trading.

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (1)

darth dickinson (169021) | more than 5 years ago | (#27092283)

Am I right in thinking that a company doing this would, in general, be entirely legal in the US?

No...no, you're not.

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (5, Informative)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091319)

The company has been shut down. Its owner faces prosecution *and* a £5000 fine (and for a case like this they will go for the maximum penalties).

Also all its customers are now under investigation and also face possible prosecution.

Also both the original company *and* its customers are wide open for legal action against them if they denied anyone a job because of this data.

That's a pretty fucking heavy disincentive for anyone doing it again.

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27092717)

Let us know when it actually happens.

mod parent up, underrated (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 5 years ago | (#27092937)

That's "if" it actually happens.

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091809)

Much nicer idea would be 5k pounds times 3213 instances. That would handily disappear those profits almost 9-fold.

Re:5k fine, 1.8M in profits (0, Offtopic)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093545)

"It's kind of hard to say "continue, please" louder than by slapping such an enormous fine."

Oh come on, it worked with Microsoft. Oh right...

sounds like the work of a genius (0, Troll)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090401)

getting 1.8 million for things you can also find on facebook! :D

Re:sounds like the work of a genius (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090751)

Most people working in the construction industry do not have a Facebook account. Most probably do not have a MySpace account either. They also probably don't have a lot of access to legal options either.

Re:sounds like the work of a genius (1)

domi28 (820911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090825)

Most people working in the construction industry do not have a Facebook account. Most probably do not have a MySpace account either. They also probably don't have a lot of access to legal options either.

How did you come to that conclusion?

Re:sounds like the work of a genius (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091409)

Highly variable, I suspect.

Illiterate undocumented immigrant getting paid 80 pence an hour to carry a hod? Probably not.

Skilled tradesman who happens to have political opinions pinker than his boss would like? Quite possibly(especially the web stuff).

Access to legal options, unfortunately, is very much a game for the wealthy; but the interwebs are pretty far downmarket these days.

Re:sounds like the work of a genius (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090761)

Yup, 'cos most building workers have a facebook page.

Re:sounds like the work of a genius (4, Interesting)

Cally (10873) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091127)

That's the infuriating aspect of this for some of us in the infosec world. This wasn't "selling private data", it was a good old-fashioned blacklist of "troublesome" employees who did annoying things like joining unions, complaining about health and safety violations (construction's very dangerous in the UK, I think it's ~100 deaths a year, and you can work out the ratio of deaths to maimings and career-ending injuries.) What they did was vile and evil, and the companies (huge mainstream FTSE-listed corporations, mostly) should be taken to the fucking cleaners as a clear sign that this sort of thing is illegal for good reasons, and will not be tolerated. However it's got FA to do with "leaking of personal data"; the headlines here, on the Beeb and even El Reg have been totally misleading.

Re:sounds like the work of a genius (2, Informative)

prefect42 (141309) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091283)

Cut out the 'in the UK bit'. A quick google gives me outdated figures for 2005/6:

UK: 59
US: 5702

Re:sounds like the work of a genius (2, Insightful)

prefect42 (141309) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091311)

A more correct google gives:

UK: 59
US: 1186

Re:sounds like the work of a genius (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27092885)

Before you go on some elitist tangent, please realize that the US has a lot more people and a LOT more huge construction jobs.

Re:sounds like the work of a genius (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093573)

Being on a tangent, safety on larger projects is (much) better managed.

Re:sounds like the work of a genius (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27091477)

Why can't an employer know if a person is a union member before hiring him? What happened to freedom of association?

If an employer wants to hire union members he should be free to do so - if he does not want to hire union members he should also be free to do so also. Why is an employee forced to reveal if he has a criminal record? In my experience union membership is a more disruptive force in the workplace than a criminal record.

Re:sounds like the work of a genius (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093631)

Unionisation is a human right like free speech, telling someone he's not hired because he's a union member would deliver a 100% certain charge for discrimination.

Re:sounds like the work of a genius (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093037)

A question I have is, would this action even be illegal in the US considering there is no such thing as (or equivalent of) the data protection act?

much bigger damage to society (5, Insightful)

pmarini (989354) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090425)

surely the damage done over 15 years to the families of those not employed because of this illegal practice is much bigger than £1.8mln...

Re:much bigger damage to society (2, Insightful)

filekutter (617285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090773)

I agree with you totally pmarini. Unfortunately this is just the proverbial iceberg tip, with much more still hidden. These are corporations whose activities the last few decades since Reagan have centered on removal of restrictions, merging of interests with national law, and abolition through demonization of unions.

Re:much bigger damage to society (1)

deathlyslow (514135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091071)

You do realize the story is based in the UK don't you?

Re:much bigger damage to society (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27092321)

Because it's not like the UK had a leader who more or less followed Ronnie's policies to the letter, is it.

Re:much bigger damage to society (0, Troll)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27092429)

demonization of unions.
Made far easier since the world has seen what sweetheart deals the UAW set themselves up with and how difficult proper education reform has been due to the teachers unions. Really, unions and their leadership are their own worst enemies.

Re:much bigger damage to society (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27094497)

Hell, I've got karma to burn so with a -1 Troll mod, let's add a -1 offtopic, b/c the kosdot mods don't have a -1 disagree option. Seriously google jobs bank uaw if you don't believe my claim of sweetheart deals. Next google merit pay teachers to see how that union is making reform difficult.

Logic much? (1)

danaris (525051) | more than 5 years ago | (#27096551)

I think the mods' problem with you is your erroneous extrapolation of a couple of (admittedly important) problems with particular unions to the conclusion that all unions are evil and must be destroyed wherever they are found.

Dan Aris

Re:much bigger damage to society (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27090783)

A few key details were left out of the article.

1.) Did the workers agree to background checks?
2.) Was the information provided false?

If no to #1 or yes to #2, they have grounds to sue the company individually. The fine is only from the government. This happens every day in the US, but you don't hear much uproar.

Re:much bigger damage to society (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091131)

Even if they agreed to a background check, they probably didn't agree to be checked for activities that aren't in any way illegal or reflecting on job performance, such as (FTFA) "ex-shop steward" or "Irish ex-Army".

Re:much bigger damage to society (1)

CraftyJack (1031736) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091329)

This decision establishes that The Consulting Association's actions were illegal. In the US, The Consulting Association would now be the target of lawsuits from workers affected by those illegal actions. I'm not quite sure if it's the same deal in the UK.

Re:much bigger damage to society (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093805)

This decision establishes that The Consulting Association's actions were illegal.

No it doesn't. That won't be established until the court rules on it, and it hasn't come to court yet.

In the US, The Consulting Association would now be the target of lawsuits from workers affected by those illegal actions. I'm not quite sure if it's the same deal in the UK.

Not yet, because it's not yet established that the actions were illegal. Even if the ruling goes the way everybody here assumes it already has, all it will establish is that the data was being sold by a company not properly registered with the DCO, not whether the selling of the data is itself illegal. Indeed, it seems it isn't, because (from the RA) 'A spokesman for the Department for Business said it did have the power to make blacklists illegal and would "review whether to use this power if there was compelling evidence that blacklists were being used".' Since the selling of the blacklists is apparently not illegal at the moment, it might not be so easy for those affected to get redress.

I'm confused (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090481)

How are the company's actions different than those of the government?

Re:I'm confused (2, Insightful)

jandersen (462034) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090723)

Does your government sell information about your political activities etc to a cabal of semi-criminals? No? Well, there you have your answer, then.

Just because you have an ingrown bias that tells that "Everthing the government does is evil, and everything a private business does is sort of OK, even if it is criminal" doesn't mean that it makes sense. You would probably benefit from taking off your blinkers once in a while.

Re:I'm confused (1)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090843)

The government sells personal information about workers (such as political activies) to companies so that they can illegally vet employees? Care to provide some citations?

Re:I'm confused (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091069)

How are the company's actions different than those of the government?

Governments can be held accountable for their actions.

Re:I'm confused (4, Insightful)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091193)

Governments can be held accountable for their actions.

Really? What country do you live in? I'd like to move there.

Re:I'm confused (-1, Troll)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27094333)

The united states of america - but we don't want you or the person(s) who modded you insightful.

This is an old, old blacklist (5, Insightful)

ab8ten (551673) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090499)

This blacklist was specifically for the construction industry - for those who haven't RTFA. The terrible thing is that this list, and its sale for money, has been around for years and years. It's the industry's dirty little secret. It's only now they've computerised the records that they can use the Data Protection Act to prosecute. Sadly, I have no doubt that the information will live on somehow. All the major players have fingers in the pie and won't give it up, I think.

Re:This is an old, old blacklist (1, Interesting)

krou (1027572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090675)

The Data protection act has been around for about 10 years already in the UK, and from what I can understand, the electronic database has been around for 15 years. They didn't recently digitize it. Of course, before then, it's anybody's guess, but these guys could have been prosecuted 10 years ago.

Re:This is an old, old blacklist (5, Informative)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090749)

It's only now they've computerised the records that they can use the Data Protection Act to prosecute.

That's not true. The DPA covers "information which ... (c) is recorded as part of a relevant filing system or with the intention that it should form part of a relevant filing system", where "relevant filing system" is defined as "any set of information relating to individuals to the extent that, although the information is not processed by means of equipment operating automatically in response to instructions given for that purpose, the set is structured, either by reference to individuals or by reference to criteria relating to individuals, in such a way that specific information relating to a particular individual is readily accessible."

Re:This is an old, old blacklist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27090957)

The DPA applies to any kind of information - digital or otherwise.

Re:This is an old, old blacklist (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091125)

It's only now they've computerised the records that they can use the Data Protection Act to prosecute.

Absolute rubbish the UK DPA has applied to paper records since it was updated in was updated in 1998 please get your facts straight

Re:This is an old, old blacklist (2, Insightful)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091221)

....please get your facts straight

Facts? We don't need facts. This is the Internet!

Tortuous? (2, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090567)

The article says that The Consulting Association faces a £5,000 fine â" after pulling in £1.8 million over 15 years with its illegal blacklist.

Are they also open to civil lawsuits from affected employees?

Re:Tortuous? (1)

krou (1027572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090727)

Looks like it. According to the video on the BBC page, the ICO claims that if someone can prove they suffered as a result of this database, they can claim compensation.

Re:Tortuous? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090781)

So, I wonder what the odds are that potential claimants will be pushed into the delightful catch-22 of "Oh, sure, if you were on the secret list you would be entitled to redress; but secret list is secret, so how are you going to prove that?"

It happens [eff.org] .

Re:Tortuous? (2, Interesting)

krou (1027572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090945)

Yeah, not going to be too easy, but at least they're taking it seriously and offering help. According to news on the ICO's website [ico.gov.uk] , "From 16 March the ICO will operate a dedicated enquiry system for people who believe personal information about them may be held on the database. Members of the public are advised not to contact the ICO until 16 March."

Common practice (1)

benwiggy (1262536) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090573)

Anyone remember The Economic League [wikipedia.org] ? I'd be surprised if someone wasn't still maintaining it.

"political affiliations" (3, Informative)

krou (1027572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090591)

Just to point out that the original BBC article (when I submitted the story to /.) had a quote from the notes in the illegal database stating that someone was a member of the Communist Party, hence why I mentioned it contained political affiliations. Not sure why the BBC removed this, but just thought I'd mention it in case someone wonders why.

4. ????? (3, Funny)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090611)

Finally we figure out the 4. ????? before 5. Profit!

British Paranoia at its finest! (5, Insightful)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090617)

Let me get this right:

British Employers are paranoid that potential employees are Communists or worse. They subscribe to a secret blacklist that potentials have no knowledge of or ability to refute allegations. Anyone blacklisted will not be employed, but the work still needs to be done.

So they draft in cheap labor from countries that didn't even exist twenty years ago. As these migrant workers aren't on the blacklist, they get cherry picked for work that local labor should have the same rights to apply for. The end result being the rise of local unemployment through no fault of the workers.

No wonder their economy is fucked.

Re:British Paranoia at its finest! (1)

myxiplx (906307) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090845)

Christ knows why this got -1, I'd mod you up if I got the chance.

If this turns out to be even part of the reason why so many foreign workers are being employed, heads need to roll.

Re:British Paranoia at its finest! (1, Flamebait)

u38cg (607297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091169)

Foreign workers tend to show up on time and do the job without whining. I'd take half a dozen random Poles over half a dozen random Brits any day. Why British people are so convinced they deserve a job in front of people who work harder and for less than they do is a source of constant mystery to me.

Re:British Paranoia at its finest! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27091345)

Translation: I'd prefer to employ illegal immigrants because if they complain about dangerous working conditions or being paid less than minimum wage, I can just have them deported rather than doing something about the problem.

Re:British Paranoia at its finest! (1, Informative)

rich_r (655226) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091835)

It'd work if it wasn't for the fact that Poles are entitled to work in the UK.
Immigrants yes, illegal no.

Re:British Paranoia at its finest! (2, Funny)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 5 years ago | (#27092521)

Christ knows why this got -1, I'd mod you up if I got the chance.

Because "ringbarer" is on the secret /. mods Neg-list(TM)? ;)

Re:British Paranoia at its finest! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27091139)

If ever a post required a +5 Insightful it's this one!

Re:British Paranoia at its finest! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27092517)

Not to mention a bunch of those migrant workers from countries that didn't even exist 20 years ago... they probably came from a formerly communist nation. ;)

Sweet irony.

Re:British Paranoia at its finest! (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093409)

Actually, the economy's fucked because we don't actually make things any more. The trend since the eighties has been for Britain to turn into one big bank. We don't make things - we finance other people to make things, and take a cut of the proceeds. Or rather, we sell their debts on to get the cash up front now and let someone else hold that risk. Or, even more profitably, we wait for someone else to finance yet another someone else to make things, we buy the debt, repackage it, and sell it on to the employees at the firm where they actually make things as a pension scheme.

A huge slice of the British economy consists of moving money about the place. Or pieces of paper representing money. Or electronic structures representing pieces of paper representing money. Or complex derivatives that at some ultimate remove via several people's promises and a whole lot of liabilities have something somewhere to do with money. And now that the world seems to have noticed that quite a lot of what we thought was money actually isn't, this house of cards is coming down quite fast.

In the midst of all this, we have a few hundred thousand people who've turned up from Eastern Europe with their old fashioned ways and they're actually making things. I have to say, I'm not going to be the one to complain about them.

Re:British Paranoia at its finest! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27095455)

British Employers are paranoid that potential employees are Communists or worse.

I think you're extrapolating USA anti-communist paranoia to the UK. Trade unions are fairly mainstream - heck, the current ruling party originated as the political arm of the trades unions and they rarely talk about deposing the Queen and hoisting the red flag over London these days (Mind you, the Labour Party and the unions aren't quite as pally these days - the unions having discovered that, whoever you vote for, the Government always gets in). However, union activists might be awkward about pay and conditions...

...but quite honestly, even if they were only blacklisting (alleged) alcoholics and thieves, without transparency and accountability that's bad enough.

So they draft in cheap labor from countries that didn't even exist twenty years ago.

What? Not their fault, sir. No option, sir. European Union employment mobility and competition laws, sir.

Now that's a great idea. Of course, any idiot can see that, in order to make a level playing field, you'd first need to harmonize taxes, minimum wages, hiring/firing rules and costs of living across the whole of Europe - or its all going to go pear shaped, especially if you have a recession and unemployment becomes a problem. Trouble is, signing a bit of paper abolishing controls on migrant workers is a lot easier than harmonizing the economies and employment laws of a continent (especially one full of countries that vaccilate between capitalist and socialist governments every few years). Guess what happened...

No wonder their economy is fucked.

Britain has always enjoyed a special relationship with our cousins in the USA. Nowhere is this more evident than in the highly effective way we worked together to fuck both our economies (along with many others).

Put on your Republican/Tory shoes for a second (0, Flamebait)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090883)

About 3,213 workers were in the database, and other information included data on personal relationships, political affiliations, and employment histories

And what's wrong with that? There are plenty of websites that track corporate political donations [opensecrets.org] and rank companies as employers [cnn.com] . Seems only fair.

Re:Put on your Republican/Tory shoes for a second (2, Informative)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090939)

You mean other than the fact that blacklists like that database are illegal?

Re:Put on your Republican/Tory shoes for a second (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27091049)

You mean other than the fact that blacklists like that database are illegal?

If you rely on the law for your morals then you have no morals at all.

Re:Put on your Republican/Tory shoes for a second (1)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091145)

And you possibly think I care, how?

I've got to hand it to you... (0, Troll)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091213)

That's some spectacular grammar.

Re:Put on your Republican/Tory shoes for a second (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27092337)

I do not rely on the law for my morals, I rely on the law for YOUR morals.

Re:Put on your Republican/Tory shoes for a second (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27091111)

If you can't see the difference between secret blacklists and a CNN page that ranks corporations, you clearly must be a fucking idiot.

Re:Put on your Republican/Tory shoes for a second (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091633)

Seems only fair.

Let us know when we get secret blacklists of employers so that we can badmouth them without risk of reprisal, and we'll call it even.

Re:F$cked Company anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27091739)

Or google search?

Ripoff Report?

about a million other blogs, sites etc,

Re:F$cked Company anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27092673)

None of those are secret, like the blacklist the article is about. Compaies can refute claims made in blogs, etc.

solution: (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Admin (304403) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091251)

Charge them with 3213 instances and fine them per instance. The profit disappears and so does the motivation.

Re:solution: (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091541)

Isn't there a solution proposed in many legal systems? Put oversimplified: "You cannot profit from the crime you committed"?

I.e. they would have to give back* the 1.8 million pounds PLUS the 5 thousand pound fine. More than likely they don't have that 1.8 million laying around somewhere, having spent much of it in time, so that'll be fun to pay back... that 5 thousand would look rather trivial in comparison. This extends to doing interviews, selling movie rights, etc. - all of it would go back into paying off that 1.8 million (and 5k in change).

* the only problem in these types of cases is.. who do you give it back to? certainly not to the companies who purchased that data. recompense those affected? how to determine if they -were- in fact affected? etc.

Re:solution: (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091965)

They already did that I think. The company is toast. The $5000 fine and/or jail time is for the owner, with them also looking for other people to charge criminally.

Re:solution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27092269)

Just being in said database should be compensated, out of the culprits pocket.

How much, I'll leave open.

Re:solution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27092699)

Isn't there a solution proposed in many legal systems? Put oversimplified: "You cannot profit from the crime you committed"?

I'm Fred Goodwin, you insensitive clod!

Re:solution: (1)

mormop (415983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27095253)

Better than that. Fine them the average annual wage lost by the builders on their list, say £15,000 a year, times 3213 builders, times the number of years the list operated = £722,925,000 spread evenly across the data company and the customers that used them.

Prosecute the users of the data harshly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27091805)

The UK government needs to make an example of the users of the information not the supplier of the information otherwise database will be moved offshore to a country where it will be diplomatically difficult to eliminate. Users of the database will make payments though some scheme which is difficult to trace.

Breaking: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27092451)

holy shit, I'm horny as all fucking hell! time to call up one of them craigslist hookers! damn i need some pussy

Well, maybe a little obtuse (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093847)

Let's say that I run a company and we are absolutely committed to never, ever hiring an "ex-shop steward". Let's assume there isn't a service on the Internet where I can look up people to determine if they were ever involved in union leadership.

What am I to do? Well, I could just hire people in an uninformed way and hope for the best. Right?

Wrong. I would (obviously) do whatever it takes to make sure that prospective employees are not and never have been union-affiliated. Sure, this might result in some false positives. Who cares? The mission of a hiring manager is to weed out undesirable canadidates as quickly as possible. That means looking for any reason to not hire someone, without ever talking to them.

If you get 100 resumes to look through for a single position, what else do you do? So one more criteria gets added for "union-friendly" and it is just one more filter that resumes have to pass through. And interviews. And background checks. And reference checks.

Does anyone reslly believe that some secret database makes that much difference? I can assure you, if anything it would cut down the false positives. So which would you rather have, getting excluded from a job becaose of something real or getting excluded because of something that just-might-be? Because 99% of the time, you're getting excluded anyway. See, if I get 100 resumes for one position 99 of them must, by definition, be excluded. It is just a matter of how and for what reason.

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