Print 70 comment(s) - last by ebakke.. on Oct 3 at 10:25 AM

Laws protect workers and students

California Governor Edmund Brown Jr. recently signed a new law into effect designed to protect the privacy of social media users. Governor Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1844 and Senate Bill 1349. These new laws will prevent universities and employers from requiring that applicants give up e-mail or social media account passwords. 
Over the last year, there has been a significant increase in the number of job applicants and college students being forced to surrender passwords to social network sites such as Facebook and others to be considered for acceptance to the college or to be offered a job. Privacy advocates argue that this is a clear violation of privacy.
Governor Brown said, "The Golden State is pioneering the social media revolution, and these laws will protect all Californians from unwarranted invasions of their personal social media accounts."
Assembly Bill 1844 prohibits employers from demanding usernames, passwords, or any other information related to social media accounts from employees and any other job applicants. The bill also bans employers from firing or disciplining employees who refused to divulge this information. The law does not provide protections for passwords or other information used to access employer-issued electronic devices.
Senate Bill 1349 adds a similar privacy policy for post-secondary education students for social media. The bill stipulates the public and private institutions can't require students, prospective students, and student groups to disclose usernames, passwords, or other private information for social media. Senate Bill 1349 passed without opposition in the legislature.
Supporters of Assembly Bill 1844 said that it is a common sense measure needed to clarify questionable business practices.


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By theapparition on 10/1/2012 4:24:31 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that in a perfect world, this law shouldn't be necessary. I don't believe anyone thinks that it should. However, as you know the world is far from perfect. If this was unconstitutional, there would be no need for things like this and the first time an employer asked for this information they'd be sued.

But as I said, most employment is at will. You're there to work for as long as you want, and the employer keeps you for as long as they want. The employment is also governed by the Employee policy. Acceptance to employment means you agree to all provisions of the employee policy. Don't like it, then leave. The trouble is there may be a limited pool of jobs to chose from, or that perhaps you've been turned down for a prestigious university and now the only place that will take you is community college. Yes, no one is forcing you to give anything you want, but you'll also have to deal with the civil consequences of such. I applaud you for trying to make a stand, but the problem is 99% of your peers would roll over to keep their job so this would otherwise never change.

You don't think that has a direct effect on your present and future ability to grow? Yeah, I could always quit my 100k a year software programming job to pump gas or flip burgers, but what are the chances of getting another 100k+ job at a company that doesn't have the same restrictions? Or how about I've been given a full scholarship to Cal Tech, but they've now rescinded my application due to failure to provide social media passwords. Instead of being a Cal Tech engineer, I'm now getting a tech degree at the local community college.

Right now, California made it illegal to deny employment or acceptance due to refusal to provide your social media passwords. This is a good thing. Should it have been unnecessary? I agree with you 100%. But this does need to be part of the state's legal code.

The linked article stated government jobs, and colleges (again government).

Just some other corrections for you.

Government jobs are not "The Government" . Yes, they may be the employer, but it's still governed by the exact same civil agreement. Worst penalty is termination. The Bill of Rights was written to protect "The Government" from knocking down your door in the middle of the night and seizing your possessions or putting you in jail because you dared question their authority.

Working at the state DMV or even the Federal Post Office doesn't change anything. There are no more or less rights involved than if you worked at the Quickie mart.

And colleges are by and large private institutions who generate profit. Many have government donations, but even state colleges are pretty much privately held in all but paper. So similarly there is no argument for them denying applications.

By ebakke on 10/1/2012 5:06:31 PM , Rating: 2
Just some other corrections for you. ...
Agreed. Conceded. I jumped the gun in my initial knee jerk reaction.

I don't want to beat a dead horse here, but I'll state it one more time for kicks. I'm not claiming that rejecting a job based on online profile credentials is an easy decision, or that it doesn't come with consequences. It most certainly does. And those will absolutely vary based on a whole slew of factors including your industry, your skills, where you live, etc. So it may be that doing so would sacrifice money, or future career prospects, or something. Sure.

But that's absolutely the same scenario as if I remove myself from the applicant pool because I'm not willing to work nights. Or because I won't submit myself to a 10-yr background check for the feds. Or because some documentary convinced me Big Bad [insert whatever industry/company you despise] is evil. Or because the person who would be my supervisor comes across as a total douche. Or maybe I never got an interview in the fist place because I chose not to work for a company that's anti-union. Or maybe I didn't apply in the first place because I have a moral objection to a company that outsources labor to Chinese factories.

The point is that I view this as just another factor/condition of that specific employment.

By Erudite on 10/2/2012 11:40:12 AM , Rating: 2
OK. I see that you're pretty set in your ways here, and that is fine. We're all entitled to our opinions. But let me pose this question to you (this is hypothetical):

What if this law were taken out of effect, and more and more companies/schools started requiring this type of information. Lets say, for the sake of argument, that every employer and school in the state of CA jumped on the "require social media/email login info" bandwagon. Now if you live in CA and don't want/aren't willing to provide that information, you have to move to another state where either it isn't popular, or isn't legal for them to ask. Is that OK? Should you be forced to move not just from your home but to another state just to find a job where you don't have to give up information that shouldn't even be requested in the first place? Because that kind of forcing will work, because it is done to you by yourself. And then even if you can afford to so something like that, not everybody is in a financial situation where they can. Is it OK that they either have to give up that information to provide for themselves/their family, or work at a job where they can't make ends meet?

Is that scenario likely? As much as I'd like to say it isn't likely, part of me is afraid it is. Will it ever be every company/school? Probably not. But how about a majority? Possibly. If you don't think so, just look at how many people use Facebook (for an example of likelihood). A few years ago, if you'd have told me that it would be this popular, I'd have told you that you were nuts, and that there couldn't be that many people willing to share that kind of information with other people. But I was definitely wrong. And while I won't ever have a Facebook page, I can see its appeal.

There will always be those of us that aren't willing to give up personal information like that, but unfortunately I think we're a small percentage. So if it becomes the norm to require that information, and most people are willing to give up that information... and you can't get a job that provides you with the living you need to support yourself and your family... is it OK to have a law like this then? Or are you willing to move to another country just so you can keep your ideals? And if you do that, plan on giving up some of the things you love (even though you may not be aware of them now) about where you live now.

Just food for thought. Just because it isn't necessarily the norm right now to require this information to get a job, doesn't mean that it won't be in the future.

By ebakke on 10/3/2012 10:25:11 AM , Rating: 2
you have to move to another state where either it isn't popular, or isn't legal for them to ask. Is that OK? Should you be forced to move ...
In this scenario, no one has forced me into anything. I still have free will and I still get to make a decision. I will have to make a value judgement. Life is full of situations where our list of options doesn't include our most ideal choice. But the choices aren't simply "give passwords" or "move". I can make a case to the employer why I'm not comfortable with that, but understand their desire to ensure I'm a low-risk employee. I can ask if something else would accomplish their goal - something that's more acceptable to me. I can fight their request through the legal system if I feel I was unfairly targeted, or if I felt I was punished in their attempt to force me to breach my agreement with another party (in this case, Facebook). (Admittedly, I'm no legal scholar - no idea if I'd have a case there). I can start my own business. I can choose a different job that doesn't have that requirement. I can do cash-only jobs for people. Or, yeah, I can move. In short, I have many options and just like every other decision in my life, I will have to choose which works best for me. I will have to decide which values are most important to me, and which I might compromise. I may have to choose an outcome that isn't my favorite, or most desirable, but no one forced that upon me.
Is it OK that they either have to give up that information to provide for themselves/their family, or work at a job where they can't make ends meet?
I suspect the frequency of not being able to find any job other than one that requires your online credentials is stupidly low. But yes, if you have no savings, no job prospects, no income, and mouths to feed - you damn well better do whatever it takes to support yourself. This seems equivalent to, say, taking a high risk job like coal mining. If you need the money, and you feel you have no other choices, do it temporarily. Take the risk/sacrifice in the short term until you can do something different/better.
So if it becomes the norm to require that information, and most people are willing to give up that information... and you can't get a job that provides you with the living you need to support yourself and your family... is it OK to have a law like this then?
I still feel the law is unnecessary. First, I shouldn't have children unless I can already support them. But second, the exact same argument from above, applies now. I still have choices.
Or are you willing to move to another country just so you can keep your ideals?
Well, that's an option, I suppose. But as you state, that's not exactly a clear cut solution. That, just like accepting a job requiring your online credentials, has some good things and some bad things that come along with it. So, as with everything else, I'd have to evaluate the good and the bad to figure out if it would be a decision that makes sense for me.

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