Photo/IllutrationJob-seeking students attend a session held by Rikunabi in Hamamatsu in 2016. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Two of Japanese biggest automakers bought data on student job-seekers that Recruit Career Co. obtained and sold without the explicit consent of the candidates.

Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. bought the personal information, which estimated the probability that students would decline an offer of employment, through its online "Rikunabi DMP Follow" service.

The automakers are among 38 companies that used the Rikunabi DMP Follow since March 2018. Both companies said that they did not use the data to judge whether to employ a candidate.

Toyota and Honda will likely face sharp questioning over whether they acted appropriately in their handling of the students' personal information.

According to a Toyota official, the data was used to "reduce the number of people who would decline a job offer.”

“We believe it is vital to check their adequacy or intention to join us in the course of personally meeting them for an interview,” the official said. Addressing privacy concerns over the students' personal information, the official said, “We will investigate what happened and review where we will go from here.”

Honda began using "Rikunabi DMP Follow" last September, a company official said.

“We used the data as a trial, aiming to utilize HR Tech (human resources technology),” the official said.

He dismissed privacy concerns about the personal information on grounds, “We used the data appropriately.”

However, he acknowledged that the company is taking seriously the criticism "that we caused the students anxiety or made them feel suspicious.”

Recruit Career focused on collating data on when and how often students viewed specific companies online. The data was siphoned through Rikunabi, which provides a wide range of employment information and services to registered users.

The data was then analyzed using artificial intelligence, which calculated the students' likelihood of declining job offers, based on the list of those who had declined job offers from companies in the previous year. The lists were provided by Recruit Career’s client companies.

Based on the analysis, Recruit Career would then evaluate a student's probability of declining a job on a five-point scale if a certain company offered to hire the individual.

Recruit Career discontinued Rikunabi DMP Follow on Aug. 4, and admitted on Aug. 5 that it had sold data on 7,983 students, part of the service’s list, without their explicit consent, in violation of the Personal Information Protection Law.

(This article was written by Eitaro Takeyama, Takehiro Tomoda and Takashi Yoshida.)