An important consideration when U.S. screening firms do international background checks are the application of foreign privacy laws regarding the manner in which information is obtained, transmitted, and utilized. The central issues are data privacy and protection. The European Union (EU) has extensive privacy laws that affect U.S. employers and screening firms.  These rules went into effect in 1998. The European privacy rules impact the transmissions of “personally identifiable data” from offices in EU countries to businesses in the U.S.

Firms that acquire data on individuals from EU member countries without compliance with the EU rules can be in violation of EU law. This can have a serious impact on international firms or firms that do business in an EU country.

 However, American firms that develop a privacy policy may enter what is called a “Safe Harbor” by certifying a privacy policy that includes adequate mechanisms to protect confidential personal data. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce. 

A firm can become Safe Harbor certified by following the guidelines listed at the Department of Commerce.  Information can be obtained at 

Employment Screening Resources was just the third background screening firm in the U.S. to receive Safe Harbor Certification from the Department of Commerce.  

ESR provides international background checks all over the world, including criminal records, and employment and education verifications.  ESR’s president Lester Rosen was the keynote speaker at the first international background screening conference held in India in 2007, and has traveled to a number of countries to investigate background screening. ESR also published the first comprehensive white paper on international background checks as part of the book, “The Safe Hiring Manual.”   

For more information on international employee screening services, see, see:

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