Government agency puts job seekers’ data at risk

Government agency puts job seekers' data at risk
Photo: DPA
Data protection deficiencies at the Federal Employment Agency (BA) are far more serious than previously reported, daily Frankfurter Rundschau reported on Friday.

The agency has massive problems with a computer system in use across the nation, according to letters sent to the paper by BA staff councils, who called the situation dangerous to privacy laws, the paper said.

“Major concerns for social data protection” exist, according to one letter out of Hamburg, which said data from people seeking unemployment benefits included information on their addictions, debts, family and housing problems.

The computer system containing the information, called 4-PM, has garnered serious internal criticism for weeks because it can be accessed by some 100,000 workers at BA offices across the country, the paper said.

So far abuse of the system has led to BA workers accessing data about two candidates for a television show some 10,000 times, insiders said.

“There are deficiencies and concerns from the federal data protection commissioner,” a BA spokeswoman told the paper, adding that another system, A2LL, has also garnered “objections.”

The agency is working to repair the problems, she added.

“We were first informed as the system went live,” Federal Data Protection Commissioner Peter Schaar told Frankfurter Rundschau. “I pressed for the system not to go into use because of massive data protection concerns.”

But the BA put the system into use despite Schaar’s anxieties, he said.

“Some of those responsible at the Federal Employment Agency have obviously not grasped” that data protection requires the “highest sensitivity,” he added.

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