[Foundation-l] Background checks at Wikimedia

Mike Godwin mgodwin at wikimedia.org
Sun Dec 16 01:06:39 UTC 2007

Allison writes:

> This is, clearly, good and sensible practice. I am, however, noting  
> that
> http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Job_openings is clearly targeted  
> at a
> world-wide base of possible applicants. How would a USA-based  
> organisation
> (such as the firm you have retained) be able to carry out any criminal
> checks for such applicants outwith the USA? In the case of the UK,  
> and I
> am sure other European and World countries, such information is not  
> freely
> available to others than the law enforcement organisations of those
> countries.

There are USA-based firms that do international criminal background  
checks, and the firm we have retained is one of these.  We are also  
aware (and I for one am fairly acutely aware) of the difference in  
privacy regulation among the various nation-states.

Certainly an applicant from a nation-state with different privacy laws  
could game the background-check system to some extent, but we hope  
this doesn't happen too often.  What we're obligated to do under state  
and federal law is "due diligence" with regard to background checks --  
we are not obligated to be perfect (no one is), and if information is  
unavailable to us because of another nation's privacy laws, the  
critical question is not whether we get it or not, but whether we do  
what any reasonable company in the same or similar circumstances would  
do. Moreover, we are obligated under U.S. law to take pains that  
personnel background checks are not disclosed to unauthorized persons.

> Or is it intended that only US-citizens could be accepted for
> any staff position with the WMF?

This must be more of that UK irony stuff I've been hearing about from  
Thomas. As an American, I am forbidden by international law to  
understand it, because I know sports better.



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