When Facebook came out on the side of employees and job seekers who did not want to reveal their passwords to prying employers, people cheered. The company that is increasingly seen as in control of far more personal info than anyone else, ever, had struck a blow for privacy.
“Facebook takes your privacy seriously. We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges.”
On the note released by Facebook that challenged those practices, a comment was made by a reader:
THANK YOU FACEBOOK !!!!! — NOW WHat I want to see is some unlucky corporation get the legal butts KICKED by YOU (i.e. The Facebook Corporation) put some REAL TEETH into that new policy by actully SENDING legal documents (i.e. an INJUNCTION) against employers who pull the “Asking for My Facebook password” stunt.
Well, don’t hold your breath.
Facebook has since qualified that statement with this release to reporters:
“We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s right the thing to do. While we do not have any immediate plans to take legal action against any specific employers, we look forward to engaging with policy makers and other stakeholders, to help better safeguard the privacy of our users.”
Fortunately, this may be an area that our government should, and may, step into. As we reported here earlier, two U.S. Senators are teaming up to pressure the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the DOJ “launch a federal investigation into a new disturbing trend of employers demanding job applicants turn over their user names and passwords for social networking and email websites to gain access to personal information like private photos, email messages, and biographical data that is otherwise deemed private.”
Interestingly, there are already labor laws in place in Canada that prevent this sort of thing.