Dems Eye Legality of Requesting Facebook Passwords

The uproar is growing over reports that both public and private employers are asking job candidates for their Facebook passwords, among other social media credentials.
Two U.S. senators, Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, are asking Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether employers who ask for Facebook passwords during job interviews are violating federal law.
In statements issued by Facebook itself and the American Civil Liberties Union, the practice is condemned as an invasion of a citizen’s privacy.
But the legality of such requests by employers is not so clear.
The senators are asking the attorney general if the practice violates the Stored Communications Act, which prohibits unauthorized access to a facility that provides electronic communications service, or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which prohibits intentionally accessing a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access.
Facebook on Friday issued a statement condemning the practice by employers reported by the Associated Press this week.
In the article, a New York City statistician said he withdrew his job application when the prospective employer asked for his log-ing information to see his private Facebook profile. The statistician said he didn’t want to work for a company that sought such personal information.
“As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job,” said Erin Egan, Chief Privacy Officer, Policy. “And as the friend of a user, you shouldn’t have to worry that your private information or communications will be revealed to someone you don’t know and didn’t intend to share with just because that user is looking for a job.”
The ACLU compared the practice of requesting a social media site password to an employer insisting on opening up a job candidate’s postal mail.
“It’s an invasion of privacy for private employers to insist on looking at people’s private Facebook pages as a condition of employment or consideration in an application process,” said ACLU attorney Catherine Crump. “You’d be appalled if your employer insisted on opening up your postal mail to see if there was anything of interest inside.”

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