Employers asking for prospective employees’ Facebook passwords: it’s been on everyone’s mind lately after some recent reports that the trend was on the rise. Many are concerned that an employer demanding access to an applicant’s social media accounts as part of the hiring process is a gross violation of privacy, and one that could be potentially harmful for the employer as well.
There are people on the national level that are concerned about this practice, and they have taken action. Now, a state Senator is taking up the cause.
The LA Times reports that California state Senator actually introduced legislation on Tuesday regarding the issue. His bill would outright prohibit employers from “formally requesting or demanding” that applicants hand over their social media usernames and passwords. This means Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Myspace – all would be off limits to employers.
“It is completely unacceptable for an employer or university to invade someone’s personal social media accounts,” said Leland Yee, sponsor of the bill. “Not only is it entirely unnecessary, it is an invasion of privacy and unrelated to one’s performance or abilities.”
Last week, Facebook responded to the controversy, saying “if you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends.” They went on to call the practice alarming and distressing.
On the national level, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is leading the charge on the issue. He says that employers asking for Facebook passwords should be illegal, and is currently drafting legislation to make it so.
Along with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Blumenthal wrote to the Department of Justice asking for an investigation into the practice – to determine the illegality of these actions based on laws already on the books. He says his legislation will be “statutory protections to clarify and strengthen the law.”
Some have wondered if this practice is actually as rampant as recent reports would have us to believe. Obviously, lawmakers on both the federal and state levels think so. What do you think about the issue? Let us know in the comments.