SNOPA Is One Internet Bill Worth Rooting For

    April 27, 2012
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

With the Internet exploding this morning at the news of CISPA passing the House, people may have put the bane of SOPA in the past. It turns out that SOPA was just the evil cousin of a much more benign technology bill that is very welcome in this climate of the government not caring about your privacy rights.

MSNBC got the scoop today on SNOPA, a bill that I’m going to start calling the Internet’s prince in shining armor. Pardon the hyperbole, but after CISPA, I’m willing to take anything. If you were wondering, SNOPA stands for Social Networking Online Protection Act. The bill does just as it describes – protects you from snooping employers and schools wanting access to your Facebook or other social media.

We covered the topic before, but it bears repeating just how bad of a problem this is. In short, it turns out that there’s a disturbing trend among American employers asking for applicants’ Facebook passwords. The reasoning is that they want to see what kind of person you are because your Facebook page is obviously a clear indicator of how you act in a professional setting.

Anyway, all this culminated in a statement from Facebook and civil rights groups, but it never really got anywhere. That is until New York Representative Eliot Engel introduced the bill today. MSNBC obtained a letter from Engel’s office that explains the bill and its goals:

“As you know, social media and networking has become such a widespread part of communications in our country, and around the globe. However, a person’s digital footprint is largely unprotected.

There have been countless examples of employers requiring an applicant to divulge their user name and password as part of the hiring process. Additionally, some universities, and even secondary schools, have required the student either divulge their personal information, or grant the institution access to the personal account by ‘friending’ the student. These coercive practices are unacceptable, and should be halted.

We have to draw a line between what is publicly available information, and what is personal, private content. I think we would all object to having to turn over usernames and passwords for email accounts, or even worse, to bank accounts. User-generated social media content should be no different.”

Now this is the kind of bill that should be supported by the House. Unfortunately, these same people rejected a previous attempt to amend an already existing bill that would ban the practice. I don’t see much hope for SNOPA especially after the House already decided to side against the citizens and their rights.

Still, it’s a first step and it may get us somewhere. It’s hard to remain optimistic, but there are wars to be fought against those who would seek to regulate the Internet and the freedom it stands for. Backing SNOPA would be one of those efforts that help protect users of the Internet from those who seek to use it for nefarious purposes, no matter how well intentioned they may be.

[h/t: The Next Web]

  • Pete Dashwood

    Are you people insane? A Bill that prevents someone from asking for your Password? You need legislation because you can’t say “no”?
    “We need your Facebook password.”
    “I don’t think so.”
    “No, really…”
    “Really? Tell you what. It’s in the inside pocket of Satan’s anorak. You can get it when Hell freezes over…”
    Seriously, has America now become so besotted with stupid and pointless litigation that time and money is being wasted with nonsense like this?
    People, you don’t need Lawyers to live your life for you; grow a pair and take some responsibility.
    Do you seriously think that because it is against the Law to ask you, that protects you?
    “You know by Law I can’t ask you for your Facebook password, but we feel that candidates who have nothing to hide, the kind of open, honest, and upright employees we want at Ben Dover Enterprises, would probably be happy to show us their sites. It could certainly help your application.”
    “Well, perhaps I need to think further about the kind of Company I want to work for. If you feel you need my personal life details, in addition to the career details I have already provided, and would give credence to a public web site, that doesn’t say much about your ability to read people and it kind of renders this interview pointless, doesn’t it? Why did I come in here today? You could just do a GOOGLE search and decide whether you want me on board. By all means, access my public profile on Facebook, LinkedIN or anywhere I have a public profile; that’s what they are there for, but understand that my Facebook password, just like ALL my passwords is private and personal. Get over it.”

    (NO lawyers or legal advice were required.)

    Why would you spend your time, energy, and talent making stupid little prying busybodies rich?

  • Todd Wilson

    Pete for President! I am glad I am not the only one out here that thinks that way.

  • http://www.drbrainles.com J. Hill

    While this all sounds wonderful, I am reminded of the eleven most fear filled words in the English language, ” Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help you” The last thing we need is government sticking their noses in the internet because now it works.

  • Graham

    This is surely a comedy post..

    I find it extremely hard to believe anyone in their right mind would be prepared to divulge their facebook password (or any other kind of password for that matter) to anyone, let alone an employer!

    Are people really that stupid? surely not..

  • vincent belmont

    Look let’s just cut the shit.. one of these crazed conspiracy junkies are right finally the government must be positioning us for global take over first FACEBOOK THEN THE WORLD!? I strongly side with Pete on this wtf are people thinking here ? Just like we tell our kids to say NO to drugs or NO to strangers .. just look that assh0le square in the face and let’em know you aren’t giving them your password… and even more so if you already have pull a slick one.. go for free and file a civil suit on them for emotional damage to your life. .. and now you can’t log on to facebook of fear that you will loose your employment and turn to drugs yay!

  • Aakon7

    There is no need for the damn democrats to be bring up this legislation, the GOP already killed a different version of this bill and they will kill this one too, and rightfully so.

    If I’m giving someone a multimillion dollar marketing budget or a company with revenues of $10+ million to operate I have a right to review their FB page to make sure they aren’t going out an getting drunk every night. A bill like this is not smart, if you don’t want an employer accessing your FB account then don’t work for them. There are many industries and many job titles that reviewing someones FB profile makes sense. For example if you are hiring someone whom has a national security clearance and requires it for their job, reviewing their internet activity should not be out of the question.

    Let the free market work on its own. If you are going to work at McDonalds they don’t give a —- about what you do online however in many situations it would make sense for the employer to make sure you are not going out and getting drunk every night.

    • Pete Dashwood

      “If I’m giving someone a multimillion dollar marketing budget or a company with revenues of $10+ million to operate I have a right to review their FB page to make sure they aren’t going out an getting drunk every night.”

      Two points:

      1. NO YOU DON’T! No amount of money can ever give you the right to invade personal privacy. If you have reservations, don’t give them the budget. It is YOUR call based on YOUR assessment of their suitability for the job.

      2. Just because Facebook says they don’t go out and get drunk every night, doesn’t mean they don’t go out and get drunk every night. The “evidence” of a Facebook site means nothing unless you actually know the person. If they had a site that said they were a pillar of the Church and candidates for Sainthood, it has no more credibility, in the context of a job application, than if it says they enjoy torturing kittens and puppies for sport. Facebook is for entertainment. I would be very concerned about someone who was prepared to be swayed by it when it came to a high powered job. There are far more trustworthy ways to assess the suitability of a candidate, and a personal interview is just one.

      But the real issue which prompted my post is the idea of passing a LAW that is really unenforceable and pointless, and would be unnecessary if people simply stood up for their rights and took some responsibility.

  • Lee

    I personally would never sign up on any social media web site for any reason. I like my privacy and I maintain it by staying far away from social media web sites and any other sites that may give out personal information to anyone for any reason.
    For those of you who like to share your info with the world, get a free or cheap hosted web site and post all your stuff there. You can send links to whoever you want to view your site. There are ways to prevent your site from being indexed by search engines, so if you want it private, you can do that too (to a much better extent than facebook or myspace would ever do for you). Employers should never have the right to any of your passwords from your off-work projects. If the username or password wasn’t provided to you by your employer, then they should have no right to it. Like someone above said – next they’ll be wanting access to your private bank accounts and email.

  • T

    Right on! So, do i get the job or not? Do you want some lame-ass sit-down coward as your employee or someone who has some balls. No? Then you get to see my balls!

  • dnrock

    I am just glad I work from myself and I graduated some time ago. I for one give only that information I decide I am willing to share with anyone else and my passwords are one of those things that I simply do not share.

  • http://mamawshomeplace.net/ April M. Galloway

    Good grief, people, take a breath.

    The only reason anyone needs the password to your accounts is to make changes, to control them, to post as you. If they just want to see what’s on your wall, all they need is to be your “friend,” to “follow” you, join your “circles,” whatever.

    So, they demand your password? Give it to them. Leave the room, sign on and change it. Then go find a new job before they fire you because they can’t control your online life.