A trial court has ordered a probe against online jobs portal Monster.com for allegedly selling users’ data to third party, reports ETAccording to the publication, Chief metropolitan magistrate (CMM) Naresh Kumar Laka said that online companies can not share users’ personal information with third parties without users’ informed consent.

The CMM also said that users agreeing with the portal’s terms of use and privacy policy would not automatically mean that companies are allowed to share or sell their personal information.

The order comes at the heel of the landmark ruling where the Supreme Court upheld that privacy is a fundamental right. The ruling was unanimous with 9-0 judges ruling in favour. The government has also mooted a data protection law and set up processes and committees for it. The SC’s judegment will have far reaching consequences for Internet companies including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Uber and others which rely on taking consent from users when they sign up for services and agree to their privacy policy. 

Laka added that “at the time of entering personal information, job-seekers are not aware that the said data can be sold to any third person or that it can be misused. Accordingly, the said ostensible consent of the said applicant/individual cannot be said to be a free, voluntary or informed consent”

The court said that such fake job rackets are operating across the country and a firm hand is needed to check them.

In its defence, Monster said it had told police that it had entered into a lawful contract for selling data, and it relied on the clause of acceptance of agreement between job-seekers and the portal and said the terms of the agreements amount to the company taking consent of all users for sharing of their data, said ET in its report.

In a statement job portal said that “Monster.com is currently awaiting the copy of the court’s order and direction to understand the specifics of this matter. We will fully cooperate with the regulatory authorities and comply with all processes laid by them to take necessary actions against the errant party.”

It further added that, “at the outset, we would like to officially state that Monster.com is a fully compliant organization in all its transactions with its customers, job seekers and all other related stakeholders. We encourage all our stakeholders including our customers and associates  to comply with the terms of use & privacy norms of Monster.com websites as per the applicable laws. Ethics, transparency and ensuring data privacy and integrity is of utmost importance to Monster.com.”

Monster’s privacy statement 

In its privacy statement on its website, Monster says that “by registering or by using this site, you explicitly accept, without limitation or qualification, the collection, use and transfer of the personal information provided by you in the manner described in this Statement. Please read this Statement carefully as it affects your rights and liabilities under law. If you do not accept the Privacy Statement stated herein or disagree with the way we collect and process personal information collected on the Web site, please do not use it.”

Monster added while signing up for the service, users give consent for the company to collect personal, demographic, behavioral, and indirect information.

  • Personal information is information that can be used to identify a user and this includes name, address, email address, telephone number, contact information and billing information.
  • Information about third parties, such as references or contacts that user provide to the company should have their express written consent to do so.
  • It also collects demographic information and refers to selected population characteristics,  ZIP code or postal code, age, preferences, gender, race or ethnicity, occupation, career history, interests and favorites.
  • Monster also collects behavioral information regarding how users use the site and mobile applications, the areas of the site that users visit, what services they access, and information about computer hardware and software including IP address, geolocation, browser and operating system type, domain names, access times and referring Web site addresses.

Update: The headline and the story has been updated, as Moster.com issued an official statement on the issue.