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Recruit Career's clients given guidance for buying data on student job-hunters in Japan

This file photo shows the Japanese Central Government Building No. 5 which houses the labor ministry, in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi/Kimi Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- Companies that purchased data from Recruit Career Co. on the probability of job-hunting students declining informal job offers violated the Employment Security Act, the labor ministry has decided, as it began slapping the firms with administrative guidance on Dec. 11 based on the law.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare judged that the client companies, including Toyota Motor Corp., specifically violated the law's guidelines requiring appropriate management of job seekers' personal information.

The ministry's move came after Tokyo-based Recruit Career, which operates the job information website "Rikunabi," faced criticism for selling to contracted companies the probability data obtained through the website by analyzing job-hunters' browsing histories.

A total of 37 firms were under service contracts with Recruit Career, including its parent company Recruit Co., and all of them are believed to be subject to the ministry's administrative guidance. Recruit Career itself was using its own services and is also subject to the ministry guidance. The contracted companies are said to have provided Recruit Career with personal information they obtained from job-seeking students and purchased the probability data that the latter calculated using artificial intelligence.

Under the guidelines of the Employment Security Act, business operators are prohibited from retaining and using personal information they collected without the individual's consent. In September, the labor ministry imposed administrative guidance on Recruit Career based on the law and demanded the firm improve its business operations and take measures to prevent a recurrence. The ministry was also investigating whether the client companies had handled personal information they obtained from job-seeking students properly.

The government's Personal Information Protection Commission on Dec. 4 provided guidance to the 37 client companies for violating the Act on the Protection of Personal Information by not adequately informing students of the use of their personal info in analyzing the probability data.

(Japanese original by Keisuke Umeda, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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