Remember last week when news broke of shady employers requesting passwords to employees’ personal Facebook accounts? While litigation over the privacy issue has been shuffled around in various levels of government, a motion called “Mind Your Own Business On Passwords” was brought up today in Congress that would have granted permission to the Federal Communications Commission to prevent employers from asking employees or potential employees for their Facebook (or Twitter or whatever else) password.
You would think that it’d be a simple matter – prohibit employers from making ultimatums in which employees must either give up their Facebook passwords to their personal accounts or else get canned – but remember that this is the 112th United States Congress: the place where progress, cooperation, and humor go to die.
In other words: no, the motion was voted down.
With the exception of one single aye-voting Republicans, every Republican in the House of Representatives voted against the motion; alternately, every Democrat save for two voted in favor of the amendment. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), who presented the motion, describes the amendment in the video below.
As Rep. Perlmutter said, the amendment is simple enough, yet why did Republicans toe the party line and block the motion? According to the Huffington Post, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee and Technology, told Democrats that the provision doesn’t “protect the consumer.”
“There are many of us who after this debate concludes and moves on, would be happy to work with you on legislation because I think this is a real issue that we all share, and that is protecting privacy,” Walden said. “This doesn’t do that.”
Walden also referred to the time-lapse between when the FCC writes a rule and when it is published. “In fact, you could open the door where they (the FCC) could allow employers and licensees to go after your stuff and you wouldn’t know until they published the rule,” he said.
Soo….. I think what Rep. Walden is saying is that the bill doesn’t go far enough in protecting consumers, so instead of passing a bill that offers some protection to consumers it’d actually be better to vote the motion down and leave Facebook users et al. with zero protection?
“Say, I see that you’re hungry there – starving to death, I’d say. Well, I happen to have a sandwich and some fruit with me but, y’know, I don’t think it will be enough to sufficiently feed you so I’m just not gonna give you anything at all to eat, mm’kay?”