Facebook Bill Headed to Congress After All - The UpStream

Facebook Bill Headed to Congress After All

posted Saturday Apr 28, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Facebook Bill Headed to Congress After All

We recently spoke with Avram Piltch, Online Editorial Director for LAPTOP Magazine and host of The Piltch Point, about a rising trend in employment. It turns out, more and more businesses and government agencies are asking for Facebook passwords before hiring new employees. Currently, employment law prevents employers from asking certain questions of their prospects, such as military service history, past employment history, medical background, etc. Their solution is to, instead of asking the questions, get the prospect's Facebook password so they can get the answers without the question.

Obviously, prospects are not happy about this trend. It is tantamount to a home invasion. Employers can find even more information about you, like music choice, sexual orientation, etc, all of which can be used to make decisions based on information they are not allowed to ask about. The US House heard tell of this invasion of privacy and decided to try and pass a law adding social networking passwords to the questions employers cannot ask. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the month, it appeared the law would be defeated.

This week, the law managed to make its way closer to the floor. Hit the break to find out what the sponsors have to say about the bill and what they think it accomplishes.

Reps. Eliot Engle (D, NY) and Jan Schakowsky (D, IL), sponsors of the bill known as Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA), believe this bill will help protect job and education prospects by future employers or schools. In addition, is also prevents current employers and schools from asking for the same thing. Engle told CNET News,

I don't believe people should be pressured into giving away their civil liberties. In a democratic country, people have a fundamental right to privacy... It's important to set down a couple of markers now, that someone's private information should remain their own private information. I don't know {the frequency of the incidents} but if it happens five times, it's five times too many... I'd rather nip it in the bud right now.

That all seems reasonable. Protecting employees and students from invasion of privacy, especially from government agencies, including schools, is incredibly important. Without protections, it could turn every employer into a tyrant of its own. What do you think? Are you glad that this bill is entering Congress, or do you think it is alright for an employer to look at a future employee's Facebook or Twitter? Let us know in the comments.

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