Petition: Investigate employers asking for Facebook passwords

Petition: Investigate employers asking for Facebook passwords

Summary: Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) has launched a petition backing two U.S. senators who have called for an investigation into the practice of employers asking for Facebook passwords.


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, 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.

See also:

Topic: Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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  • Strange as it may be...

    "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."

    Well, if you "give" them the password or have the shoulder-surf while you log on, perhaps they could argue that you gave them "authorization".
  • Seriously?

    Who would ask for your facebook info? I find that amazing. I'd tell someone to fthemselves if they asked me that.
  • Since when has the Laws Changed to protect Privacy?

    Let's make this clear first of all anyone demanding my Facebook, or any other Password or means to access my personal life or be fired or refused for hire, your ridding on the Lawsuit Land. How many corrupted CEO's and Politicians allow the public to look into their practices and means of communication?

    Next since many sites allow a Social Site Password to be used as means to access other things it's only allowing more access to our privacy. Identity thefts and worse can happen from this as well. Assumptions of things can only lead to what would fall under violation of Privacy and means to sabotage others. Give you an example: Joe Schmo applies to a Company for a position and is perhaps even more qualified for the job and the one hiring them. Well Sarah Smith decides he's a threat and makes a posting using Joe Schmo's account and then upon review due to an improper or deemed posting that would prevent the job applicant being hired.

    Example 2: Joe Schmo is working for a company and it's time for cutbacks and Bob Smith has been trying to keep his job and while performing poorly he makes a post about the company under Joe Schmo's account getting him fired and Bob Smith says I'm glad I was able to show you all this making him a Corporate Kiss Butt and undermining an good employee.

    Example 3: While investigating Joe Schmo, Mrs. X goes to lunch while his account is open on her PC and doesn't lock it, Rival Rick Jones comes in decides he will post something under Joe Schmo's account that's open on unsecured Mrs. X computer and makes a inflammatory posting about Mrs. X which not only get's Joe Schmo fired, but possibly a lawsuit to boot for Harassing Remarks.

    Bottom line is with so many using limited passwords, or shared access logins and more its' to easy for this to be regulated or properly watched. Too easy to abuse and cause more serious issues. Who knows the irreversible harm that can be inflicted and leading to identity thefts and more.

    Next regardless if I'm using my own Computer, my own time in my own home and off Company Ground it's non of your D**n business what I post unless it's something illegal which then that should be left to authorities to deal with. You nor anyone else on this planet have the right to assume everything in my life is public or your domain to know.

    There is no grounds to prove the limits of use or issues that can be left from this kind of B.S. Assumptions with tagging and more can also be falsely assumed causing even more harm or destruction of ones life and privacy or that of others around them.

    ACLU, and most of all the U.S. Constitution should protect each person regardless same as other Countries what ensure freedom, and rights to privacy. It's getting out of hand and I hope people get back to respecting others enough like them or not will promise not to take away ones rights.

    Unless something big happens to someone big with lots of Money and Fame no one will look at this for the simplicity of respecting Privacy and Freedom of Speech and Choices. This is simply a means to profile others and limit their freedom and abilities.

    This is beyond a doubt violation or Civil Rights, Constitutional Rights, and Legal Rights. It can be used with no means to regulate or restrict means that could intentionally or accidental damage that it can cause not to mention left open for more security issues that could lead to identity theft and more.

    What's posted is only meant to be shared with the ones you agree to share it with regardless where it is. Not all are equal to everything and that's just by freedom of choice. Unless your against ones rights then you should stand behind the ethics of protection.
  • The solution is simple ...

    Don't use Facebook, Myspace, Google Plus, or any other social sites. If you must use Facebook for Web site logins, create a fake identity that bears no relationship to the real you.

    I'd like to see a database set up for reporting employers who demand passwords to employees' or job applicants' online accounts. Such employers should be shunned, making it very, very difficult and expensive for them to attract and hire talent or even basic manpower. They'll learn soon enough that employment is a two-way street.
    Tony R.
    • Not exactly

      I agree with you on this point: employers that request/demand such a gross invasion of privacy should be shunned, and have their abusive practices publicized.

      However, I disagree with you when you say that people should simply not use social media. People [i]should[/i] 1) restrict access to their social media activity (i.e., don't make posts public), and 2) demand that Facebook, Twitter, et al. respect privacy.

      People should not, however, be forced to change their behavior just because certain abusive employers wish to overstep their rights. If an employer demanded the right to tap your phone, would you stop using phones?

      Employees need to draw strict lines which employers must never be allowed to cross, and demand laws that uphold those boundaries.
  • sgdergh