This Facebook snooping by employers thing has really struck a nerve. Ever since it was reported that there was a rising trend in employers asking prospective employees to turn over their social media passwords for investigative purposes, legislatures at both the state and national level have taken action.
Last month, a bill outlawing the practice passed in Maryland. Now, a similar bill propsed in the California State Assembly has passed without a single nay. AB 1844 was passed by a vote of 73-0.
This bill would prohibit an employer from requiring an employee or prospective employee to disclose a user name or account password to access a personal social media account that is exclusively used by the employee or prospective employee.
To clarify, “social media” is defined as “any electronic medium where users may create, share, and view user-generated content, including uploading or downloading videos or still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant messages, or online social networking content.” So that covers quite a bit of online territory.
“I am proud to have received this overwhelming show of support for the protection of our privacy rights,” said Assembly member Nora Campos. “I look forward to working with the Senate and the Governor to ensure that this bill is enacted into law.”
Now, the bill has to clear the upper house, the State Senate.
It’s been debated whether or not the issue of employer Facebook snooping is as widespread as recent reports have suggested. Some are skeptical, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that there are currently 129 cases before the National Labor Relations Board dealing with the practice.
For their part, Facebook has come out in opposition to the practice. In a statement made in March they called it “alarming” and “distressing.” They said that as a Facebook users, “you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account.”
While we will no doubt see more bills like this pop up in state legislatures, some members of the U.S. Congress are taking action as well. Democratic Senators and House Members just proposed the Password Protection Act of 2012, which takes aim at these social media password requests.