Ongoing concerns over the practice of employers requiring prospective and current employees to hand over their social media passwords has led to the introduction of new legislation prohibiting the practice. According to Senator Richard Blumenthal’s (D-CT) government page, the Password Protection Act of 2012 will enhance current law to prohibit employers from compelling or coercing employees into providing access to their private accounts:
- Prohibits an employer from forcing prospective or current employees to provide access to their own private account as a condition of employment.
- Prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against a prospective or current employee because that employee refuses to provide access to a password-protected account.
- The Password Protection Act only prohibits adverse employment related actions as a consequence of an employee’s failure to provide access to their own private accounts. It preserves the rights of employers to:
- Permit social networking within the office on a voluntary basis.
- Set policies for employer-operated computer systems.
- Hold employees accountable for stealing data from their employers
- Employers that violate the Password Protection Act may face financial penalties.
While common sense should tell you it’s wrong of an employer to demand such information, some people are desperate to gain employment and are thus being coerced and essentially bullied into handing over their personal information. This new legislation should send a clear message that this sort of practice is not only frowned upon, but illegal.
“This is about the right to privacy,” said Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “No person should be forced to reveal their private online communications just to get a job. This is another example of making sure our laws keep up with advances in technology and that fundamental values like the right to privacy are protected.”