Data that comes after a promise of responsibility

Some of the firms that harvest user data and exploit it can give the recruitment industry a bad name but Nick Booth thinks he has found an exception that could change things

If there was an annual award for the cruelest exploiter of information, the competition would be fierce. The Charity sector is emerging a strong contender, with their ruthless bullying of old ladies. But for consistent cynicism nobody can match the ironically named ‘people business’.

Human resources, personnel, people smugglers- they’re all dead eyed, stone hearted fiends in human form – or so I suspected.

My prejudice was actually confirmed not that long ago when I discovered a market intelligence agency is had set up a bogus Head Hunting agency, as a means of getting target executives to “tell us all about your current job”. If you haven’t already guessed, there is no job, the bogus talent scout is actually flattering their target into spilling the secrets of their current employer, so that a rival company (the head hunter’s real client) can find out all their sales, marketing and channel plans. 

Recently, I reported an agency to the Advertising Standards Agency, because they were obviously using dodgy tactics to either harvest CVs or gather information. They got away with it this time, but I am on their case now. The recruitment industry seems a rum world. If they’re not stealing your information, they’re wasting your time.

So I’m delighted to hear that a new honest player is now disrupting the infernal nether world that is the recruitment sector. Not Actively Looking is the invention of Joseph Blass (who you may know from Toucan Telecom and Pipex) and Anthony Harling, a former executive searcher who wanted a better deal for everyone.

Not Actively Looking shuns the crude instruments of the job board, the public social network and the useless database of raw CVs. Instead, it makes all your information private and searchable only by trusted executives, should you give your consent.

The essential point is that technology is too powerful a weapon to be given to strangers. In response, Blass has created a sort of licensing system. You can only get data crunching technology if you can prove that you will use it responsibly, he says.

Brilliant idea. Surely this is a discipline that channel entrepreneurs could start to apply to other industries, because marketing and advertising technology has the potential to ruin public life.

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