Tomorrow marks the 4th annual Data Privacy Day (or ‘Data Protection Day’ in Europe) and Microsoft will be joining consumers, governments and organizations at events held in San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Brussels to support the increased awareness of online privacy.

 

As people share more about their lives online through social networks, micro-blogging, photo sharing and other services, we at Microsoft see the issue of online privacy and control over personal data becoming a more important consideration. People continue to prize safety, but they also want the ability to share information in ways that allow them to maintain control over how it’s used and how it might impact their reputation.

 

To commemorate Data Privacy Day, Microsoft released a study conducted with 2,500 consumers, HR managers and recruitment professionals in the US, UK, Germany and France, to learn more about attitudes toward online reputation and how this information can have real life consequences. The results illustrate how we, as a society, are still grappling with the intersection of privacy and online life. For example, 63 percent of consumers surveyed are concerned that online reputation might affect their personal and/or professional life, yet, less than half even consider their reputations when they post online content. Finally, Fewer than 15% of consumers in any of the countries surveyed believe that information found online would have an impact on their getting a job

 

This consumer outlook contrasts sharply with how important online reputation is to HR professionals as part of the hiring practices. Online reputation is becoming inseparable from the other ways in which employers and professional contacts judge us. In a challenging economic environment where job hunting is top of mind and online information is playing a pivotal role in the hiring process.

 Our study found 70% of surveyed HR professionals in U.S. (41% in the UK) have rejected a candidate based on online reputation information. Reputation can also have a positive effect as in the United States, 86% of HR professionals (and at least two thirds of those in the U.K. and Germany) stated that a positive online reputation influences the candidate’s application to some extent; almost half stated that it does so to a great extent.

You can watch a video highlighting the research findings below. 

 

 What we hope people take away from this research is that an online reputation is not something to be scared of; it’s something to be proactively managed. That means not just removing (or not posting) negatives, but also building the online reputation that you would want an employer (or friend or client) to find.  Microsoft is releasing new guidance to help people take control of their online reputation and build their own online brand. You can find that guidance at: www.microsoft.com/dataprivacyday.

Our work for Data Privacy Day is part of our long-standing commitment to help protect people’s privacy that includes building strong internal practices, participating in ongoing policy discussions and providing clear guidance to consumers. We believe that everyone should know how the information they put online is being used and understand that they have control over that information.

 

Peter Cullen, Chief Privacy Strategist, Microsoft