New German Employee Privacy Proposal is a Mixed Blessing

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The German government has approved a bill that would substantially amend the country’s framework data protection law, the Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (‘‘BDSG’’), with a focus on human resources data.1 The bill follows Chancellor Angela Merkel’s promise to revise the BDSG after a wave of corporate breaches of employee privacy. High profile German companies, including a supermarket chain and an automobile manufacturer, were found to be in breach of the law, and the government-owned railway company Deutsche Bahn AG was issued the largest ever fine given for noncompliance with the BDSG. These scandals led to significant concern that the law was not being appropriately enforced and that changes needed to be made.

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