Employers banned from requesting applicant Facebook passwords

The question really is: “Where do we draw the line?” The matter has finally been settled, with the Senate introducing the 2012 Password Protection Act.  Concerned with what they believe is “the growing practice of employers requiring prospective or current employees to provide access to password-protected accounts as a condition for employment,” Senators Richard Blumenthal, D-CT; Chuck Schumer, D-NY; Ron Wyden, D-OR; Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH; and Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, introduced the act – which follows similar legislative lines to state bills that have been implemented over the last few months. A press release from Sen. Blumenthal stresses that the PPA, which would amend the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, prohibits an employer from “forcing prospective or current employees to provide access to their own private account as a condition of employment and … from discriminating or retaliating against a prospective or current employee because that employee refuses to provide access to a password-protected account.” The PPA will not interfere with an employer’s domain to set policies for employer-operated computer systems or hold employees accountable for stealing data from their employers. However, the PPA does not allow employers to access private employee data under any circumstances, even if the employer uses its own computers to access that data. A preventative measure While the media have made this sound like a popular practice, the belief is that it isn’t as widespread as many people think. The sponsor of similar legislation pending in California acknowledges that the practice of asking for such passwords is not widespread and that her bill is more of a preventive measure. All-in-all, while it’s vital that employers perform thorough background checks on potential employees, having access to applicant’s personal social profiles isn’t really a necessary part of this. There are plenty of other, more important, types of background checks to focus on.]]>

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