Think It’s OK to Ask for Employees’ Facebook Logins? Think Again

By Mikal E. Belicove|For|May 15, 2012

Proponents of free speech say no employer should have the right to ask job applicants or employees for their private social utility passwords, any more than they have the right to ask to inspect personal diaries or someone’s bathroom medicine cabinet.

Such demands by employers could set a precedent for personal and online privacy, a situation where all the power is in one corner, making it difficult for people to get a job. And on the flip side, such action can open employers to claims of discrimination.

Last week, in an effort to make it illegal for an employer to compel or coerce access to any private information stored anywhere on the Internet, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) and Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) filed the Password Protection Act of 2012 in the U.S. Senate (SB 3074). Reps. Martin Heinrich (D., N.M.) and Ed Perlmutter (D., Colo.) introduced an identical bill, HB 5684, in the House of Representatives.

Also on the federal level is House Bill 5050, the Social Networking Online Protection Act, submitted by Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y. 17), intended to prevent people already employed, seeking a job or admittance to schools or universities from being required to divulge their so-called “digital footprint” to potential employers or educational institutions.

Several states have climbed on the bandwagon, including…

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