GRAND RAPIDS – Given the continuing advances in technology, it is not surprising that companies are using new ways to target potential employees.

One of these ways is “geofencing.” Recruiters are now borrowing this technique, which has been honed by digital marketers and social media platforms to get advertising, marketing and brand messages to hyper-focused audiences.

Increasingly, companies are using geofencing to locate and attract specialized talent. A company might buy a database of potential recruits culled from online profiles or educational records, and then set up a virtual perimeter around a particular geographic “zone” where the coveted recruits work or live. When a potential recruit enters a geofenced zone, the individual will receive an ad on a mobile device inviting the person to apply.

Recruiters say this approach provides a more cost-effective and targeted method of recruiting than traditional methods. But it also raises questions about protecting the privacy of the individuals you are targeting. If your organization collects personally identifiable data in connection with a geofencing campaign, then you should also put mechanisms in place to protect the data from the malicious activities of hackers and from improper use or disclosure by authorized users. As with any individually identifiable data that you collect, you should consider the following questions:

Who has access to the information obtained? The more people who have access to the data, the greater the opportunity for someone to lose or misuse the information.

What and how much information is collected? Companies should always think about the types of information they are collecting. The less information you collect, the less you must protect, which will save you money while also reducing your risk of a potential data breach.

Over what time frame has the information been collected? How long will you retain it? Again, it costs money to protect information. You will reduce risk and expense if you set time limits on your retention of personally identifiable information.

Where is the information being stored? When using a third-party vendor to collect and/or store information, you are only as secure as your vendor. Do your due diligence before selecting a vendor, then follow it up with a solid contract that spells out expectations.

Is the information adequately protected? Different types of information will be subject to different standards, which may be set by industry, state, federal or even international laws.
In the event of a security breach, your company could find itself subject to investigation, meaning these questions could become front and center. If you have not addressed these issues adequately, you could face a public backlash.

In a world that is increasingly interconnected, geofencing provides great opportunities – yet does come with potential risks that good companies will want to think through.

About the authors: Norbert F. Kugele and Nathan W. Steed are partners at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, where they help individuals and companies safeguard their data and protect their privacy. You can reach them at [email protected] or [email protected] or by calling 616.752.2000.