Late last month, New York Senator Charles Schumer and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats, called for an investigation to determine whether employers are violating federal law when they demand access to Facebook accounts. More recently, the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) launched a petition to support the cause: Employers Shouldn't Get Employees' Social Networking Passwords.
Here's the petition's description:
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) asked the Justice Department to investigate this privacy violation -- and he needs grassroots support. Sign our petition supporting an investigation. Justice Department: Employers should not be allowed to demand private social networking passwords from job applicants. This privacy violation needs to be investigated -- and needs to be stopped. We are working with Senator Blumenthal's office and will deliver this petition to the Justice Department. We'll also inform the media about the petition's momentum.
The goal is 60,000 signatures. At the time of writing, the group is 90 percent of the way there.
"The nearly 54,000 individuals who've already stood up and signed our petition at are sending a clear message to Washington: Americans should not have to choose between jobs and their privacy," Conor Kennedy, Senior Associate with P Street, the legislative arm of the PCCC, said in a statement. "As more and more Americans stand with them and sign this petition, we will work with congressional leaders like Senator Richard Blumenthal to investigate and hold employers responsible for any violation of employees' privacy rights on social networks."
"I'm amazed that 50,000 Americans have already signed the Progressive Change Campaign Committee's petition at ProtectOurPasswords.com, fighting against abusive practices that compel people to choose between jobs and privacy," Senator Blumenthal said in a statement. "There is no excuse for employers to violate employees' basic privacy rights on social networks -- and as this petition continues to grow, I will use it to urge action on this issue."
The two U.S. senators sent letters to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to see whether the practice violates the Stored Communications Act or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The former prohibits intentional access to electronic information without authorization and the latter bars intentional access to a computer without authorization to obtain information. In the meantime, one of the senators is already drafting legislation to stop employers asking for your Facebook password.
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