It has become a common practice for employers to run a background check on potential employees before hiring. The scope of these checks varies, but the process is usually determined by the nature of the business and the job description. Every applicant is expected to provide some form of personal information, the background checks conducted by companies might only cover the information provided by the candidate or go beyond this information to investigate other aspects of their lives such as public records, family background, social background, etc. however critical a background check might be, it is not legally permissible to investigate a candidates personal internet history.

Background checks

When faced with the need to run background checks, the company can decide to run these checks using in-house resources or engage the services of an external investigator. In both cases, the investigations will be limited to screening public record, interviewing the candidate’s family members, former employers and friends. There could also be an assessment of the candidate’s internet history based on materials sourced from search engines; this, however, will not include the content of a candidate’s personal internet history.

Internet History

Internet history in this regard refers to a log which shows the websites and internet pages that have been recently visited. This information is saved by the browser installed on a personal computer. An individual’s internet history can only be accessed with the permission of the individual, and this information cannot be accessed by making a search on the common search engines online. This means your internet history is not accessible by your employer unless you by your consent.

Company Policies

There are instances where an employer will find it necessary to carry out a background check on an already existing employee. This might be due to an appraisal in view of a pending promotion in the workplace. The background checks that will happen then will also not include an investigation of the employees’ internet history because it is inaccessible to the employer.

External Background Investigations

A background check conducted by a company to investigate people who are not employees of the company is not legally permitted to investigate the details of their browsing history. The illegality of this process is because the individual’s internet history can only be accessed when their privacy is breached in this case gaining unlawful access to their personal computers. It is, however, possible that potential employees could be asked by the employers their preferences regarding browsing the internet and their favorite websites, however, there is no legal way to confirm the answers that will be provided to these inquiries.


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