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Bill Banning Employer Facebook Snooping Introduced In Congress 199

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-we-technically-employ-congress dept.
suraj.sun writes "According to The Hill, 'The Social Networking Online Protection Act, introduced by Democratic Reps. Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), would prohibit current or potential employers from demanding a username or password to a social networking account. "We must draw the line somewhere and define what is private," Engel said in a statement. "No one would feel comfortable going to a public place and giving out their username and passwords to total strangers. They should not be required to do so at work, at school, or while trying to obtain work or an education. This is a matter of personal privacy and makes sense in our digital world."' Ars adds, 'The bill would apply the same prohibitions to colleges, universities, and K-12 schools. ... Facebook has already threatened legal action against organizations who require employees to reveal their Facebook passwords as policy.'" Maryland beat them to the punch, and other states are working on similar laws too. We'll have to hope the U.S. House doesn't kill this one like they did the last attempt. The difference this time is that the concept has its own bill, while its previous incarnation was an amendment to an existing bill about reforming FCC procedures.
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Bill Banning Employer Facebook Snooping Introduced In Congress

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  • by gapagos (1264716) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @02:36AM (#39835951)

    Does it contain a clause preventing the employer from demanding a candidate to friend him or a HR person?
    Because it should.

  • er (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yew2 (1560829) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @02:38AM (#39835961) Homepage
    I would love to rant about the privacy we are compelled give up even applying for a job - companies pull credit reports and wont hire you unless youre a good consumer and all but um...we need a law to prevent employers from demanding LOGON CREDENTIALS? I just love MBAs.
  • by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @02:48AM (#39835975) Homepage

    Why not simply an affirmation that private companies, corporations both foreign and domestic, as well as individuals, are fully bound by the constitution and all of it's amendments and no contract clause or condition can abridge the constitution and it's amendments in any way shape or form. Then legislate major penalties for any attempt to do so, both a major fine and prison term.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 29, 2012 @02:52AM (#39835985)

    If the Employer can't demand a username or password, they can't verify you even have a Facebook account. Or, even if they knew of the existence of an account for you, you would have plausible deniability as to if the account was yours. After all, there's nothing to stop someone who knows you from setting up an account and posting information to it that might reflect badly on you in a job interview -- which is exactly why HR shouldn't be "Googling" applicants or looking for them on social networking sites. They have no proof what they read is true.

  • by _pi-away (308135) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @02:57AM (#39835995) Homepage

    I truly don't get this. If an organization requires a law to tell it that it shouldn't do this - YOU DON'T WANT TO WORK THERE.

    Consider yourself lucky that they demonstrated that right up front in the interview before you spent weeks/months/years there.

  • by gapagos (1264716) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @03:08AM (#39836023)

    What if every employer start requesting it, do you give up your rights or do you choose homelessness?

  • by TWX (665546) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @03:21AM (#39836059)
    I've wondered, since this came up in the news, how those poor, poor employers screened candidates in the old days, before they could readily get information from Internet search engines, social networking sites, and inexpensive background checks.

    Oh, right- they had to actually talk to them, and had to evaluate them after they hired them, and had to consider firing them if their professional lives had problems...
  • Re:Congress? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @03:32AM (#39836079)

    Congress isn't a single person. It's not hypocrisy when some congressmen vote for CISPA and others speak out for privacy. The two congressmen behind this bill both voted against CISPA and had announced their opposition to SOPA prior to the bill being withdrawn. So no, they're not being hypocritical at all.

  • Yes and no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @03:50AM (#39836147) Homepage

    Yes, I wouldn't want to work there.

    No, that's not how it works. There are more workers than employers, so without any external force employers are free to set the rules as they see fit. When many employers adopt a policy, workers have to band together if they want to fight it; and that's exactly what we're seeing here.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @03:51AM (#39836155) Homepage Journal

    How about governments stops meddling with every single business and person out there, introducing all these nonsense laws, while actively snooping on everybody on this planet without any justification, cause and mandate?

    Just this NSA data center [wired.com] is a much bigger privacy risk than any number of employees who are dumb enough to ask for FB access of their potential hires and these potential workers being dumb and unprincipled enough to give it to them.

    How about NSA stops doing THAT? Never mind the extra-judicial murder the president is involved in.

    Shouldn't laws apply to the government first?

    Shouldn't the government not be allowed to do things that an individual isn't allowed to do in the first place?

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @03:55AM (#39836169) Homepage Journal

    Oh, and by the way, to those, who will reply to me with nonsense like: government must protect us from the evil corporations.

    Stop and think for a second: nobody forces you to work for any of those companies and if you actively refused to work for them if they violated your privacy, they'd stop doing it, just the PR alone is going to be a problem for them.

    But with a government... how are you going to opt out of that? With a company you can opt out. You can not buy the product, you can avoid being employed with them, but how do you opt out of being targeted by the NSA, TSA, etc? You can't avoid the government.

    The government creates the ultimate monopolies and you can't opt out either of paying them or participating in their programs.

  • The fuck? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by melted (227442) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @04:01AM (#39836185) Homepage

    The country is circling down the shitter, and this is the best thing the Congress has to occupy themselves with? If a prospective employer asks me to provide my FB account, I'll tell them to go pound sand, and so should everybody else. My photos of funny kittens shall be mine alone.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @04:14AM (#39836245) Homepage Journal

    It would be useless, because "it is amendments" doesn't make any sense at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 29, 2012 @04:20AM (#39836267)

    say for a drug that can save lives but which is administered in private clinics so as to keep competing pharmaceuticals from gaining direct access to the drug

    There would be nothing keeping competitors from acquiring and selling the drug, as in a true free market, patents and copyright wouldn't exist.

  • by jpapon (1877296) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @04:33AM (#39836299) Journal

    There would be nothing keeping competitors from acquiring and selling the drug

    Yeah, nothing except the fact that they would have to figure out how to make the drug, and if there were no patents, such a formula would be a very closely guarded secret.

  • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @04:34AM (#39836301)

    And in our modern economy, where it's the first interview you've had in months and your unemployment funds have long since been spent paying the necessary bills; you'll choose facebook privacy over putting food on the table for your family? Now imagine you're not some highly paid code wizard who gets to pick and choose employers, but an ordinary shop floor worker doing a blue collar job who has to take what you can get.

    Being able to exercise your rights when you're wealthy and in a position to pick and choose between jobs is one thing. When you're in modern serfdom employment and the employers hold all the cards, federal or state government regulation and enforcement is about the only thing that can protect the workers from ridiculous abuses like this. Even more so when it's local government (such as police) doing it.

  • by digitig (1056110) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @04:36AM (#39836313)

    say for a drug that can save lives but which is administered in private clinics so as to keep competing pharmaceuticals from gaining direct access to the drug

    There would be nothing keeping competitors from acquiring and selling the drug, as in a true free market, patents and copyright wouldn't exist.

    Presumably there would be a measure of security through obscurity. The pharmaceutical companies could presumably put some complicated passive compounds in with the active one (obfustication!) so those wanting to clone it would have to either isolate the active ingredient or work out how to fabricate a whole raft of ingredients, either of which could be a significant research task. After all, in a truly free market there would be no need to declare the active ingredient (or, indeed, for there to even be an active ingredient).

  • by fnj (64210) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @04:47AM (#39836345)

    The selection of candidates by the two parties effectively limits the choice of voters. Yes, they can vote third party or write somebody in, but if no one of half decent mentality, morality and freedom from control ever competes for the nomination of either party, or if those who do are quickly weeded out by the respective bought and paid for establishments, the general election is just a fraud.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @05:34AM (#39836445)

    I truly don't get this. If an organization requires a law to tell it that it shouldn't do this - YOU DON'T WANT TO WORK THERE.

    That is of course correct but not the point. The problem is because sometimes people need jobs that they do not want. My father is a very smart guy but he doesn't have a college degree and he worked for many years in a job with limited applicability outside of a handful of companies. He didn't really want to work there, he had to out of economic necessity. The pay was better than probably anything else he could get and he had a union to protect him from idiots who might demand unreasonable things from him. (one of the good cases for unions actually) It would have been very easy for some moron to demand some ridiculous intrusion into his personal life without some form of external protection like a union or a law.

    Bills like this are not to protect (presumably) you or me but rather to protect people with limited options. If your options are to hand over your facebook password so that you can feed your family, you're probably going to give over the password. It's completely wrong to even ask but sometimes we have to make laws to prohibit such behavior explicitly because a few idiots can't figure out why it is wrong. A law gives protections and recourse to those who might be vulnerable to being taken advantage of.

  • by Jon Stone (1961380) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @05:52AM (#39836501)

    Facebook are willing to sue. They don't want people to do this either. It devalues their service (even if the users are the "product", they still need to provide something of value to attract users).

    Facebook probably wants to be able to charge companies for access to potential employees' data

  • by sjbe (173966) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @05:58AM (#39836519)

    Because the constitution bounds the powers of the FEDERAL government.

    And the state governments as well via Article Six. Government at all levels is bound by the Constitution.

    In fact the laws against murder are all state laws

    Demonstrably not true [wikipedia.org]. Perhaps you should actually read about federal law or at least spend 20 seconds on Wikipedia before posting something so easily refuted. There are federal laws concerning murder for cases where state law would not apply such as for overseas military, on federal property, situations crossing state lines, involving federal officials, ambassadors, foreign officials, and numerous other circumstances.

    A state could decide not to have any law against murder as far as the constitution is concerned.

    Kind of a stupid argument since they all do have laws against murder.

    So the First Amendment says CONGRESS shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. It doesn't stop a state from limiting free speech.

    Actually it specifically does stop states from limiting free speech via Article Six [wikipedia.org], specifically "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding." Basically the First Amendment overrides any state law that contradicts it. If the Constitution was not applicable to states then it would be a useless document.

  • by Ronin Developer (67677) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @12:27PM (#39838021)

    Yes, it was called work for a reason. Yes, people actually spent time talking to people looking for someone who could truly contribute.

    Today, HR hides behind algorithms and software that supposedly screen a candidate before a human ever speaks with them. So much for the "Human Relations" side of things. They utilize recruiters who pre-screen. Those same recruiters are in it to make a profit based on either their contracting rates (less they can pay you the better) or percentage of the salary of the person hired (higher the better). Just the other day, I received three emails for the same position. Each one specified a different duration and offered rates that varied from $60/hr up to $80/hr - W2. WTF? All were from offshore firms, BTW.

    It doesn't matter if the individual has the knowledge, experience, motivation and personality to improve your company and make it a better place any longer. If your resume isn't in the right format or you don't use the latest and most correct keywords or you put dates that can help narrow down your age as being older than dirt, your application goes into the bit bucket. It's a numbers game, pure and simple. And, may the Lord help you if you are unemployed - those systems identify you as such and that you are no longer on top of your game. You are so screwed once you get that label on you profile.

One man's constant is another man's variable. -- A.J. Perlis

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