German agency to mine Facebook for credit worthiness info

A leading German credit agency has come up with a cunning plan to evaluate credit worthiness of potential clients. SCHUFA aims to analyse information from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Xing and even Google Street View.

A company spokesperson confirmed to Spiegel Online that the project exists and that it is completely within legal frameworks in Germany. However, German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who really should reconsider the double-barrel surname, was quick to condemn the project. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told Spiegel that SCHUFA and other credit agencies should disclose their full intentions of using Facebook date to check creditworthiness, calling for full transparency in creating credit reports.

Lawmaker Rainer Bruderle believes SCHUFA should drop the project altogether.

“SCHUFA’s plans go too far,” he said, arguing that social networks are part of a person’s private life and therefore should not be tapped. Germany’s active data protection community also voiced its concerns about the plans.

However, even if SCHUFA or any other credit agency choose not to tap available, public Facebook information as part of an organised project, there is really no way of stopping bank clerks, insurance reps and other individuals from snooping around and using such information on their own initiative.