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Facebook Privacy Businesses Databases Security

This Time, Facebook Is Sharing Its Employees' Data (fastcompany.com) 45

tedlistens writes from a report via Fast Company: "Facebook routinely shares the sensitive income and employment data of its U.S.-based employees with the Work Number database, owned by Equifax Workforce Solutions," reports Fast Company. "Every week, Facebook provides an electronic data feed of its employees' hourly work and wage information to Equifax Workforce Solutions, formerly known as TALX, a St. Louis-based unit of Equifax, Inc. The Work Number database is managed separately from the Equifax credit bureau database that suffered a breach exposing the data of more than 143 million Americans, but it contains another cache of extensive personal information about Facebook's employees, including their date of birth, social security number, job title, salary, pay raises or decreases, tenure, number of hours worked per week, wages by pay period, healthcare insurance coverage, dental care insurance coverage, and unemployment claim records."

Surprisingly, Facebook is among friends. Every payroll period, Amazon, Microsoft, and Oracle provide an electronic feed of their employees' hourly work and wage information to Equifax. So do Wal-Mart, Twitter, AT&T, Harvard Law School, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Even Edward Snowden's former employer, the sometimes secretive N.S.A. contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, sends salary and other personal data about its employees to the Equifax Work Number database. It now contains over 296 million employment records for employees at all wage levels, from CEOs to interns. The database helps streamline various processes for employers and even federal government agencies, says Equifax. But databases like the Work Number also come with considerable risks. As consumer journalist Bob Sullivan puts it, Equifax, "with the aid of thousands of human resource departments around the country, has assembled what may be the most powerful and thorough private database of Americans' personal information ever created." On October 8, a month after Equifax announced its giant data breach, security expert Brian Krebs uncovered a gaping hole in the separate Work Number online consumer application portal, which allowed anyone to view a person's salary and employment history "using little more than someone's Social Security number and date of birth -- both data elements that were stolen in the recent breach at Equifax."

This Time, Facebook Is Sharing Its Employees' Data

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  • Not "sensitive"! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, 2017 @07:58PM (#55529101)

    ALL incomes should be public.

    The only reason they are not, is so employers can play employees against each other and prevent them from teaming up and balancing the market.

    It's one of the ways in which the supposedly free-market-loving industry does the opposite, and impedes said free market.

    You should be able to go: "Hey! Not fair! I should be getting just as much as Joe!"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Iâ(TM)m self-employed. Why should my income be public?

    • by gnick ( 1211984 )

      The only reason they are not, is so employers can play employees against each other and prevent them from teaming up and balancing the market.

      There's nothing stopping my coworkers and me from discussing our salaries with each other and there would be potential benefits to us. But we don't. That tells me that our employer playing us isn't the only reason we don't all know we're all making.

      • Re:Not "sensitive"! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, 2017 @10:58PM (#55529567)

        You've been conditioned.

        Back when I joined the workforce some 15 years ago the salary bands were published on the website. These days I don't even know if the industry publishes a single number anywhere. I remember the whole team being dragged into a meeting and being sternly told "Do not discuss salary. This is a disciplinary offense.". It's not of course because that would be illegal, but that didn't stop the chilling effect in an industry sector made out of naïve younger staff.

        Look to society. Note that talking about salaries in general is socially unacceptable. Explain how that happened.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Typically fresh hires get more than the people already running the same cogs. They tricked the niave oldsters into not finding out the truth

          • by vux984 ( 928602 )

            Typically fresh hires get more than the people already running the same cogs. They tricked the niave oldsters into not finding out the truth

            And then the companies fire all the old people so they can be replaced with younger people willing to work for less.

            Right. :p

    • I bet many employees will be strongly against that. Some object to it for tax reasons, many object to it because now they have to pay more alimony, and then there are several other reasons. I really do not care what Joe gets, even if he works far less, delivers crappy results, and barely shows up for work. All I am interested in is if I get paid what I think my work is worth.
  • Until 1972, the bottom of the card said: "FOR SOCIAL SECURITY PURPOSES -- NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION."

    I'm not sure a national identification number, that could also be subverted, is the answer... perhaps the answer lies in biometric verification [techtarget.com] or elsewhere, but the present system is broken by the continued carelessness of virtually everyone.

    • by Kargan ( 250092 )

      Yes, I recommend a chip that will contain the information instead and which will be implanted in the head or in the hand.

      • Yes, I recommend a chip that will contain the information instead and which will be implanted in the head or in the hand.

        I sure hope it's at birth, so, like circumcision, we have no memory of it.

      • So what if they have techs like Equifucks developing such a chip and then any dillhole can crack the transmission protocol and read out personal data from anyone who walks around in a half mile radius?
    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Friday November 10, 2017 @08:26PM (#55529183)

      Well, if you take a look at the Constitution of the United States of America, you won't find anything that explicitly forbids a private company from collecting data about you, which can be sold and used by the buyer for whatever purposes they decide.

      Now, if a while back in Philadelphia, you would have floated this business model while quaffing some musty ales with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington . . . they would have all been thoroughly disgusted by this concept.

      But then again, the Constitution isn't worth the paper that it is printed on these days, so if even if there was something in there against this practice . . . it would be simply ignored.

      • Well, if you take a look at the Constitution of the United States of America, you won't find anything that explicitly forbids a private company from collecting data about you, which can be sold and used by the buyer for whatever purposes they decide.

        Now, if a while back in Philadelphia, you would have floated this business model while quaffing some musty ales with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington . . . they would have all been thoroughly disgusted by this concept.

        But then again, the Constitution isn't worth the paper that it is printed on these days, so if even if there was something in there against this practice . . . it would be simply ignored.

        Quaffing musty ales, in whose esteemed company, "I'll have a Samuel Adams" would've been utterly misunderstood.

      • Well, if you take a look at the Constitution of the United States of America, you won't find anything that explicitly forbids a private company from collecting data about you

        It doesn't say anything about murder either.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        You guys should consider an Amendment to add a right to privacy, for what it is worth.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It was time for an alternative a LONG DAMN TIME ago.

      But biometric verification is a terrible answer. Your bios can change over time. Any means of verifying them translate to simple data hashes...which can be stolen. Once stolen, you have no means of generating new ones. Complete fail.

      The national ID, which is now mandatory basically everywhere, is not any better. They say it is, but it is the same old shit in a new heap.

      Anything that actually WOULD be better (public/private keys and so on) are not and

    • The answer is not having a business that pokes its nose into other people's business.

    • Biometric verification is even worse! The SSA can hand out a new number, they cannot give you new fingerprints or a better face.
  • Equifax? Antifax. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Arzaboa ( 2804779 ) on Friday November 10, 2017 @08:22PM (#55529175)

    The question has been, "Why are wages not going up in the United States?" The answer has ultimately been, "We don't know."

    If companies are using wage data to manage wages, the real market forces can not play out. It doesn't matter what one asks for, downward pressure on wages will always exist. This leaves zero room for real negotiation, and almost zero pressure for companies to have to decide real wages.

    --
    Pick a salary, any salary. That's cute, here is your salary.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You're well on the way to Slavery 2.0 :(

  • by Bender Unit 22 ( 216955 ) on Friday November 10, 2017 @08:50PM (#55529241) Journal

    So it is a union for employers? Working together, making sure they don't pay their employees more than they have to? :D
    "You want how much? No no, that's not what they are paying you!"

  • I do not think any other western country permits this type of thing.

  • This not news -- there are at least two companies that run employment verficiation databses.
  • Employers use this system to wash their hands of the idea of a "reference call." Since most employers (in policy, at least) will only verify dates of employment and previous salary if called for a reference, this system basically publishes this information and has been in existence for years. It's only coming to light now because of the Equifax breach. Employers love it because it gives them the legal check box of not empowering a "rogue manager" to divulge anything about previous employment. (This is why I

  • What would be wrong with publishing a specific salary, seeing how many candidates bite? If it's too low, then people won't be interested. Raise it a bit, repeat.

    Why play the guessing game with new hires and interviewees or base present salaries on past salaries in a database? Place a bid for labor. If no one responds, then raise the bid.

  • Send a request to the work number to see all the data they have on you. You have this right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (US). That's what I did.
    In my case they said they don't have any records on me. I'm hesitant to beleive that, but I do have a written record of that statement in case it is shown to be false.

If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders. -- Hal Abelson

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