It finally looks like we are going to see some legislation making it illegal for employers to ask employees and possible new hires for their social networking login information:
If the thought of being asked by a prospective employer for your Facebook and Twitter login credentials makes you uneasy, you’re not alone. Senator Richard Blumenthal has announced that he’s working on a new bill that would prohibit the requests, pointing to the ban on workplace polygraphs as justification for outlawing the practice. The bill would also be structured to take the needs of existing employees into account, although Blumenthal says he’s still examining the details.
Speaking to Politico, the senator described the requests as an “unreasonable invasion of privacy for people seeking work,” adding that the bill would be ready “in the very near future.” The senator is aiming to go beyond proposed legislation in Maryland and Illinois, claiming the practices under scrutiny “go beyond the borders of individual states and call for a national solution.” It’s worth noting that it’s against Facebook’s terms of service to give your password to someone else, and while the Department of Justice apparently believes violating these terms is a federal crime, it has said to Congress that it won’t prosecute violations
Not only that, but Facebook is also not happy with the practice at all:
Facebook has weighed in on a practice by some businesses asking employees or job applicants for their passwords to the popular social-media site.
In a nutshell? Facebook says don’t do it unless you want to get sued.
“This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends,” Erin Egan, the site’s chief privacy officer, wrote Friday on the site’s Facebook and Privacy Page. “It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.”
Egan said that Facebook has seen a “distressing increase” in reports of job candidates being asked for their passwords over the past few months. She notes the practice violates not just the user’s privacy but also that of his or her Facebook friends.
Now there’s another issue here. This isn’t violating just the privacy of the person being interviewed, but also all their friends. If a friend of mine gives out their account information, allowing an employer to snoop in their account, now that employer can see all my stuff I have set to private. That means my privacy has just been violated by these intrusive bastards.
But this practice isn’t limited to Facebook or Twitter. As I posted a couple of weeks ago, employers and schools are also asking for email login information of people. Now think about that for a moment. Do you online bank? Now some HR person at some company you interviewed for has a way to try and retrieve your login credentials. The worst part is that companies are allowing this to happen, ignoring the serious legal ramifications that could ensue.
I’m glad to see possible legislation coming out and Facebook noticing the growing problem. A solution won’t come soon enough. I just hope we can get legislation through and the “corporations do no wrong” Republicans won’t stand in the way.