Facebook today outlined how it wants to protect its users from employers demanding access to their accounts. The company is looking to create new laws as well as take legal action against employers. Senator Richard Blumenthal is one step ahead: he's already drafting legislation.
Blumenthal is working on a new bill that specifically bans the practice of employers asking current and prospective employees for their Facebook passwords. The Connecticut Democrat and former state attorney general says that these kind of requests are an "unreasonable invasion of privacy for people seeking work" – the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the same thing.
"I am very deeply troubled by the practices that seem to be spreading voraciously around the country," Blumenthal told Politico. He added that an "employer has a lot of ways to find out information" about potential new employees.
Blumenthal said his bill will have exceptions, including some federal and local law enforcement agencies, as well as national security departments. That being said, he plans to include private companies with government contracts for highly classified work.
Although Facebook didn't explicitly say so, the company is likely supporting Blumenthal. After all, sharing or soliciting a Facebook password is a violation of the social network's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
"Facebook takes your privacy seriously," Facebook Chief Privacy Officer for Policy Erin Egan said in a statement. "We'll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges. While we will continue to do our part, it is important that everyone on Facebook understands they have a right to keep their password to themselves, and we will do our best to protect that right."
I have contacted Facebook about Blumenthal's bill and will update you if I hear back.
Update at 3:25 PM PST: Facebook declined to comment on the bill.
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