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Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter  (Source:
In a final vote of 236 to 184, the amendment was put to rest

A new Facebook user protection amendment that would stop employers from asking for applicants' social networking usernames and passwords was rejected in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The amendment was proposed earlier this week by Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter. The amendment would have added to section H.R. 3309, the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2012. This would allow the FCC to step in if employers were to ask for online social networking information.

The following paragraph would have been added to section H.R. 3309:


Nothing in this Act or any amendment made by this Act shall be construed to limit or restrict the ability of the Federal Communications Commission to adopt a rule or to amend an existing rule to protect online privacy, including requirements in such rule that prohibit licensees or regulated entities from mandating that job applicants or employees disclose confidential passwords to social networking web sites. 

However, the proposed amendment failed quickly. In a final vote of 236 to 184, the amendment was put to rest. Only one House Republican voted in favor of the amendment.

The proposed amendment came after a series of complaints from job and school applicants, who were either asked to surrender their usernames and passwords to their social networking sites or asked to log on to these sites in front of their potential employers.

Earlier this month, it was discovered that current employees and applicants to the Maryland Department of Corrections were asked to give their emails and passwords for their Facebook pages to their employer/interviewer. One of the corrections officers, Robert Collins, went to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to complain, and the ACLU ended this practice. However, the Maryland Department of Corrections now just asks employees to log on right in front of them.

The University of North Carolina is another example of an institution that searched social networks for information on those they were accepting. It even revised its handbook to make it so student-athletes must add a coach or administrator to their friends list on their social networks.

"People have an expectation of privacy when using social media like Facebook and Twitter," said Perlmutter. "They have an expectation that their right to free speech and religion will be respected when they use social media outlets. No American should have to provide their confidential personal passwords as a condition of employment. Both users of social media and those who correspond share the expectation of privacy in their personal communications. Employers essentially can act as imposters and assume the identity of an employee and continually access, monitor and even manipulate an employee’s personal social activities and opinions. That’s simply a step too far.”

Social networking-related privacy issues don't end there, though. Earlier this week, an Indiana high school student was expelled for tweeting profanity during non-school hours. Reports say the tweet was posted at 2:30 a.m., which is clearly outside of school hours, but the school insists that the student tweeted the foul language while on school property.

While this particular amendment was shot down, the Republicans agreed to work with the Democrats on new legislation at some point.

Source: Tech Crunch

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By borismkv on 3/29/2012 1:48:52 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone who has an expectation of privacy on Facebook is a moron, first off...That said, though, no business should have any say over what you do when you're not working for them. On the flip side, though, this practice is potentially dangerous for organizations and businesses because it can open them up to litigation if they refuse to hire someone based on what's on their facebook profile. It's a douchebag practice and, realistically, people should just refuse to work for the companies that demand such levels of intrusiveness.

RE: Hmm...
By AEvangel on 3/29/2012 1:56:39 PM , Rating: 2
people should just refuse to work for the companies that demand such levels of intrusiveness

That is the key....personal integrity and choice....if you don't like a practice don't solicit the business.

RE: Hmm...
By mindless1 on 3/29/2012 4:16:16 PM , Rating: 5
but the thing is you won't know... you'll go through all the effort to find a potential employer or school, research them to know what they're about and create a good informed impression, apply, wait, go in for an interview... go through all this before you find out they're going to make excessive demands instead of treating your employment like a peer:peer relationship.

Many businesses do not understand this peer:peer arrangment, they feel you essentially sign on to be their slave and obey orders instead of it being quite the opposite, that you agree to nothing more than the normal duties of the position applied for.

Same applies to some companies that don't disclose ahead of time that they require a drug screening, background check, credit check, etc. ANY job requirement should be stated clearly at the start, not after time is invested by either party.

RE: Hmm...
By Samus on 3/29/2012 5:49:34 PM , Rating: 5
Republicans are the biggest group of hypocrites on the planet. They push the idea of small government, but want to control a womans' right to abortion. They want to cut government spending, but still cut billions in taxes to big oil and other oppressive industries that hold back alternative fuel innovations, while gas is still $5.00/gallon here in Chicago.

Now they want to allow employers to invade your privacy. They might as well cavity search you at the door. It's ridiculous we even need an amendment like this in the first place, but its even MORE ridiculous it didn't pass.

Control. Control. Control.

"People shouldn't be scared of their governments. Governments should be scared of their people."

RE: Hmm...
By foolsgambit11 on 3/29/2012 6:42:05 PM , Rating: 3
I think the counterargument there would be that this was a government mandate. The "right to privacy" protects you from government intervention, not this sort of violation of privacy. Libertarians would argue the government shouldn't interfere here - the market will sort it out on its own.

Not saying I agree, just pointing out it isn't hypocritical for them to not support this regulation.

RE: Hmm...
By Manch on 3/30/2012 5:02:47 AM , Rating: 1
I believe in small government. I dont believe in abortion, but I dont believe it's my right to tell a woman what to do. As far as I'm concerned that's between the man, the woman, their creator or their conscience. I do however believe that my tax money shouldnt pay for their personal choice.

As far as oil goes, no I do not think the oil companies should be given tax breaks. I do think our corporate tax structure is to high and it has driven businesses to other countries where its cheaper. I also think that the Dem's stance that drilling is not an immediate solution is bullcrap. They said that 10 years ago, they say it now. If we had been able to drill 10 years ago, we would have enough supply coming out of those taps to help suppress gas prices. I also think blocking the creation of the keystone xl is stupid. Build the fricken pipe already. Compromise! Route it around the aquafier! and build it.

While all of those are subjects we have all argued about on multiple Dailytech articles, NONE of that has to do with employers asking for my facebook password! Stop flinging crap to cloud the arguement!

The government should NOT get involved in this. We do NOT need the government to regulate every little thing that goes on. If they start regulating this, then that will open the door for more regulation on like items.

Here's a simple solution. Either give the employer what they want, delete your FB acct(oh no!), or find another job elsewhere.

Just like people say vote with your wallet, I say do the same thing with your job skills.

Everytime somebody(employers) does something thats distasteful or unfair, Congress doesnt need to get involved.

RE: Hmm...
By NellyFromMA on 3/29/2012 2:01:32 PM , Rating: 1
Funny, because I thought morons were people who were closed minded and couldn't understand how people might have reason to believe they don't have to forfeit and submit to every single intrusion of their personal life in order to obtain employment...

RE: Hmm...
By FaceMaster on 3/29/2012 2:00:31 PM , Rating: 4
Sorry, got to the end of the sentence and had forgotten the beginning. Twice.

RE: Hmm...
By retrospooty on 3/29/2012 2:07:32 PM , Rating: 2
??? they dont have to. If I had a facebook account, and an employer asked me for my password I would simply decline. I wouldnt want to work there. Its just too intrusive. Not that I would have any dark secrets on my internet based site anyhow, but its just the point. Why would you wnat to work somewhere that feels the need to crawl so far up your a$$? No thanks.

RE: Hmm...
By JediJeb on 4/1/2012 12:14:09 AM , Rating: 2
My employer about 15 years ago asked us to sigh a document that would give them rights to anything we patented or copyrighted. It was written so vaguely that it would cover everything even what we had created on our own time and totally unrelated to the work we do. Most of the clerical people signed it but most of the degree-ed chemist in the lab refused. They made a little fuss about it but in the end never came back and asked us to sign. They must have found out it was too overreaching or they just didn't want to have to hire a whole new staff. So yes, you can refuse when employers ask for stupid things.

RE: Hmm...
By Nanobaud on 3/29/2012 2:09:21 PM , Rating: 5
So, if you have ever been to a nude beach, you should have no expectation that your prospective employer shouldn't ask to see you naked?

RE: Hmm...
By retrospooty on 3/29/2012 2:08:32 PM , Rating: 2
"people should just refuse to work for the companies that demand such levels of intrusiveness." we really need a law for this? Just say no.

RE: Hmm...
By OoklaTheMok on 3/29/2012 2:25:38 PM , Rating: 4
Do companies have the right to demand access to your personal email or even your personal mail?

If companies are going to make such demands upon prospective employees, then apparently a law needs to exist to prohibit this.

Say for example that you were already gainful employed at one company, and accepted an offer from another to work for them. Then on your first day on the new job, the new company informed you that you to hand over your email address and passwords. You could decline, and in turn become unemployed, or you could be coerced into giving them what they want because you need to have a job.

This is why there needs to be a law or some labor regulation to prevent this type of abuse.

RE: Hmm...
By Manch on 3/30/2012 5:06:40 AM , Rating: 2
I would ask to see if it was included in the terms for employment. Every job I've ever taken there was one. If it's an issue, then I would say that people should ask about that, just like people ask about health benefits, and vacation days. Id ask what their policy is on social media and personal email. If they told me I had to surrender it, then Id stay at my current job.

RE: Hmm...
By Pirks on 3/29/12, Rating: -1
RE: Hmm...
By BioHazardous on 3/29/2012 4:10:28 PM , Rating: 5
it's easily allowing them to filter out drunkards, addicts, sexual perverts and other unwanted folk. If you're clean, not dumb, and have moral integrity

People shouldn't be subjected to other people's ridiculous moral standards in order to seek gainful employment. My tendencies to get drunk and have sex on the weekends is none of their business, nor does it affect my ability to do my job M-F.

As a consequence of this practice, if an employer is deeply religious they may not hire somebody because of their list of bands they like on their FB page. (this is but one simple off the top of my head example) Now, they'll never admit to the actual stupid reason they didn't hire you for; but they were only able to figure out that stupid little thing from creeping through your FB profile because you're at the mercy of the employer since you need a job.

There's a reason we call it our personal/private life and not our professional life for things outside of work. Just like there's supposed to be a separation of church and state, there should be a separation of personal and professional lives.

RE: Hmm...
By Omega215D on 3/29/2012 10:52:41 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Hmm...
By mindless1 on 3/29/2012 4:24:28 PM , Rating: 4
but you mean nothing dirty, dumb, an addiction(s), and moral integrity ACCORDING TO YOUR STANDARDS.

What if you have political views contrary to the interviewer? Suppose you're an outspoken Democrat and s/he a Republican, don't you think that's a divide some would use as an excuse? Suppose you're gay or pro-abortion, or whatever. There are too many polarizing issues in this world which should have nothing to do with employment.

None of these things are relevant to whether a person is fit for the job offered. That's what an interview is for, if they want to know they can ask any question within legal limits.

So basically, someone who feels they have nothing to hide and it won't hurt them, seems sort of (not dumb but...) ignorant in my book.

RE: Hmm...
By retrospooty on 3/29/2012 4:47:44 PM , Rating: 2
"employers definitely love this new tool since it's easily allowing them to filter out drunkards, addicts, sexual perverts and other unwanted folk."

I dont disagree with the logic, but lets say you were a drunk addict perv looking for a job. Would you seriously put that stuff on your facebook page? Of course not. The page would be clean, so nothing would be accomplished.

RE: Hmm...
By Pirks on 3/29/2012 9:08:46 PM , Rating: 1
Employers filter our DUMB drunk addicted pervs, that's the important detail. Smart pervs and addicts are pretty hard to detect on the job interview, agreed.

So treat this FB test as some kind of IQ test for employers who want people with higher IQ in general.

RE: Hmm...
By retrospooty on 3/30/2012 3:41:45 PM , Rating: 3
I'll treat is as the opposite. An IQ test for managers that are too stupid to work for. If one were to ask, I know that isn't someone I want to work for.

Then again, I am in IT, and employment is easy. I literally wasn't even looking for a job in 2011 and I found 3. I might think differently if I were in an industry that was harder to find a job.... "Oh yes sir, here is my password sir, here is my bank account codes and my house key as well sir. "

RE: Hmm...
By JediJeb on 4/1/2012 12:26:47 AM , Rating: 2
I dont disagree with the logic, but lets say you were a drunk addict perv looking for a job. Would you seriously put that stuff on your facebook page? Of course not. The page would be clean, so nothing would be accomplished.

So nobody has ever committed robbery or other crimes and posted the fact on FB where the police found it and used it to convict them? I think this type of thing happens every day and if people are dumb enough to do that, then they are dumb enough to not remove information before an interview.

RE: Hmm...
By tastyratz on 3/29/2012 4:56:37 PM , Rating: 2
Just because people comply does not make this acceptable.
And just because you have moral integrity with nothing to hide, does not mean you should be in a position with an obligation to show.

What would you feel if access to your postal mail was requested, and they just wanted to open your letters for a while? Would you be appalled then?

How is it we can have laws protecting individuals from employer discrimination against sex, age, height, weight, etc... but an amendment like this struck down? This is discrimination. HR could just as easily not hire you for your preference in sports team or choice in music. The purpose of an interview is to screen an individual in a way that they present themselves professionally.

Free speech and search/siezure constitutionalists should be all over this. I think it should escalate to a supreme court case, it's just a matter of time.

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

~Ben Franklin

RE: Hmm...
By drycrust3 on 3/29/2012 2:57:45 PM , Rating: 1
no business should have any say over what you do when you're not working for them.

Many business have rules (of if not, then expectations) about employees not making comment to the media. To me, Facebook falls into the "media" category, you shouldn't be making comments on Facebook and similar forums that could embarrass your employer.

That said, and not being an American, I think it is a sad day for the whole world when a majority of the elected representatives of the one country that supposedly symbolises freedom of speech won't stand up and vote to protect a person's freedom of speech. To me, I find it incredulous that the elected representatives of America would even consider not protecting an individual's right to freedom of speech.
Now employers all around the world will know that "freedom of speech" doesn't include what employees say on Facebook, and if it excludes Facebook, then other similar forums would also be excluded as well.
It's a douchebag practice and, realistically, people should just refuse to work for the companies that demand such levels of intrusiveness.

It's not that easy when a person lives in an area where there is high unemployment. This is why a law regarding this practice was so important.

RE: Hmm...
By Dr of crap on 3/29/2012 3:06:40 PM , Rating: 2
And in 10 years when Facebook doesn't exist anymore, will we need to pass into law yet another protection from whatever is the NEW thing to post your boring life on????

Really an amendment?

RE: Hmm...
By mindless1 on 3/29/2012 4:27:09 PM , Rating: 2
You are somewhat correct, in that they amendment was not broad enough and should cover any aspect of one's personal life that is password or otherwise intrusion protected to even the slightest extent.

RE: Hmm...
By YashBudini on 3/29/2012 7:28:14 PM , Rating: 2
And in 10 years when Facebook doesn't exist anymore,

People need to start realizing anything and everything you say on-line is forever.

Facebook is playing an ever increasing role in divorces.

Don't you long for a time when only your urine exposed bad things about you?

RE: Hmm...
By JediJeb on 4/1/2012 12:55:10 AM , Rating: 2
Now employers all around the world will know that "freedom of speech" doesn't include what employees say on Facebook, and if it excludes Facebook, then other similar forums would also be excluded as well.

The thing is you do have "Freedom of speech" to place those things on your Facebook page. The question now is do you have the right to hide it from people? I don't believe that freedom of speech would cover this because if you stood in front of a prospective employer and disclosed the very things people may want to hide you would be exercising that freedom with the same bad consequences.

The only part of the Bill of Rights that may pertain to this situation would be the 4th Amendment concerning search and seizure, but that only covers what the government does, not private citizens. I think we in the US have tried to use the 1st amendment to try to cover too many things that it was never intended to cover.

The problem in this situation is two fold, one is employers wanting to take the easy way out to screen their employees, the second is the fact that such a huge portion of the public seems to have become brain dead enough to want to place every detail of their lives out for the world to see and keep records of there " hey watch this!" exploits in a very public and permanent way. Sitting in on some interviews recently I realize just how difficult it is to find prospective employees of high caliber.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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