Big Brother? State will ‘count’ unemployed’s job searches

Government urge unemployed to sign up for jobs site which can detect number of searches

The Week

THE GOVERNMENT is courting controversy over a new scheme to monitor the computers of the unemployed in an effort to detect how hard they are looking to find work.

The jobless are being urged to look for work through a new Universal Jobmatch website, which it claims will help match their skills to jobs on the market.

However their activities, including the number of job searches they make, will be tracked using “cookies” so that their Job Centre advisers will know how long they are spending on the site and whether they are turning down opportunities.

Critics of the scheme claim that even though new users of the Jobmatch site are asked if they are willing to be monitored, it is a Big Brother-style intrusion on privacy. The EU has reiterated its stance that monitoring behaviour online without the user’s consent is not allowed.

Iain Duncan-Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, admitted job advisers would be able to impose sanctions such as “mandatory work activity” if they feel the unemployed are not searching hard enough on their computers reported the Daily Telegraph.

IDS is an enthusiastic advocate of the website, claiming that anyone who doesn’t find a job after signing up to the scheme lacks “imagination”.

The site also allows employers to search for new workers among the unemployed and send messages inviting them to interviews. Around 690,000 people have signed up to it so far, with more than half giving their job adviser access to their profile and activities.

There are just over 2.5 million people unemployed in the UK at present, according to The Guardian.