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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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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

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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