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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 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.

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