Employers Asking For Facebook Passwords Should Be Illegal, Says One Senator

    March 26, 2012
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

Should it be illegal for employers to ask prospective employees for their Facebook passwords? One U.S. Senator thinks so.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) says he’s drafting a bill to ban the practice, and that it should be ready “in the near future.”

You might have heard about a rising trend within companies’ HR departments. It’s becoming common practice for some employers to request that applicants turn over their Facebook login information as a requirement for landing the job. Of course, this has ruffled the feathers of privacy activists and many Facebook users alike who say that this is an unprecedented invasion of privacy.

Employers have been using Facebook for a while now when it comes to researching job candidates. But that practice is usually limited to browsing their wall, photos, and posts from an outsiders perspective. Giving employers passwords lets them into the most private of your online data, where they could unearth things that the user had controlled with their privacy settings.

Many have pointed out that it’s not just a problem for employees, but employers as well. Digging around someone’s Facebook account could reveal information previously unknown to the employer. If any of that information happens to cause the employer to choose not to hire a candidate, and the information involved religion, race, or sexual orientation – the employer could get caught up in quite the discrimination suit.

Blumenthal told Politico that he was “deeply troubled by the practices that seem to be spreading voraciously around the country,” and that the password requests are an “unreasonable invasion of privacy.”

MT @YaleDems: #CT very own Senator Blumenthal is standing up for the privacy rights of employees. Check it out here! http://t.co/yE5vs6Pb 23 hours ago via TweetDeck ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

Apparently, the bill wouldn’t make it illegal to use information gained from public Facebook activity – the “outsider” stuff mentioned above. Employers could still use what they found looking at a prospective employee’s Facebook activity in their hiring considerations. It would just make the mandatory overturning of passwords a no-no.

Blumenthal’s not the only one to come out against this practice. Facebook, in a lengthy response on their Passwords and Privacy blog said that the practice was both “alarming” and “distressing.” They said that nobody should have to share private information to land a job, and that the trend of asking for these passwords “undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends.”

  • http://webpronews.com Susan Coppersmith

    While you are looking at my Facebook.. Here’s the security code on my home alarm system too.

  • Susan

    Privacy is important!

  • Ross

    Just so its clear, the abbreviation for Connecticut is CT, not CN.

  • http://yahoo nana

    I agree

  • http://JobSeekerPEPCode.com Don Brown

    There has been a lot on the news about employers now asking job seekers for their Facebook password, which violates Facebook policy and their user agreement. To accommodate prospective employers seeking additional information about you, and if it means the difference in you getting hired or not, give them your PEP Code which is FREE. There’s detailed info at: http://www.FREEPEPCode.com

  • http://www.promosmoke.com Smoker

    Let me pose a question: Would you let your employer open your mail before you get it? I don’t see how this is any different than viewing your private messages on facebook.

  • James McCurdy

    I think it is rude and unconstitutional for an employer to ask for social media passwords. I personally would not give them that info even if it meant getting fired.

  • http://www.sellatune.com/res2010/ ken

    Employers do not have the right to search your personal out of office email, ,your facebook, your myspace or other blog, your personal paper mail that comes to your house, search your home, or search or spy on you after hours of a job, search your personal body or it’s chemical content without probable cause. If people let the government and big money corporations turn our country into a fascist state, they will in a heartbeat take all of our rights away. At the moment they cannot do some of these things but give them a chance and they will take it.