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California Employers Can't Ask For Your Facebook Password 363

Posted by Soulskill
from the californian-employees-like-this dept.
J053 sends word that California has passed legislation making it illegal for both colleges and employers to request social media account access from students, employees, and prospective hires. "Assemblymember Nora Campos, who authored the bill, called AB 1844 a 'preemptive measure' that will offer guidelines to the accessibility of private information behind what she calls the 'social media wall.' ... According to Campos' office, more than 100 cases currently before the National Labor Relations Board involve employer workplace policies around social media. Facebook has also said it has experienced an increase in reports of employers seeking to gain 'inappropriate access' to people's Facebook profiles or private information."
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California Employers Can't Ask For Your Facebook Password

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:56AM (#41488313)

    Privacy is not dead, it's just losing the war.

    Take arms and fight back!

  • wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by daenris (892027) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:56AM (#41488315)
    If a business I worked for or was interviewing at asked me for my passwords to anything not work related, I wouldn't be working there anymore.
    • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by realsilly (186931) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:57AM (#41488333)

      Some people don't have a choice, they need the work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kiriath (2670145)

        What ever happened to "Give me liberty, or give me death"

        People too often just go with the flow, allowing themselves to be trampled by corporations and government. No one willing to take a stand for what is right and just.

        I applaud the decision. (To make it illegal)

        I am appalled by the problem.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Gotta love the armchair rebels who belittle people for making practical decisions. It's easy to do so from down in mommy's and daddy's basement.

        • by Applekid (993327)

          What ever happened to "Give me liberty, or give me death"

          People too often just go with the flow, allowing themselves to be trampled by corporations and government. No one willing to take a stand for what is right and just.

          I applaud the decision. (To make it illegal)

          I am appalled by the problem.

          That's the thing with idealists, leaders, and revolutionaries. They're a tiny tiny fraction of the population as a whole. The true stubborn independent spirit, the willingness to fight and die for one's ideology, is actually a pretty rare thing.

          • Probably a good thing too. I'm sure the psychology of the person willing to fight for their freedom isn't that far off from the psychology of the person willing to, for example, shoot a doctor for performing abortion. Strong loyalty to a cause can be a great and dangerous thing.
      • Re:wow (Score:5, Interesting)

        by realsilly (186931) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:24AM (#41488749)

        Some people don't have a choice, they need the work.

        I personally don't agree with the practice and to a degree, I misspoke.

        A person always has a choice, but many people will let go of information about themselves for purposes that are their own. Many people who are unemployed and are desperate for work will happily give up that info just for the chance at work.

        Many people are good and decent people found in horribly hard times and need the work to support themselves and their family, so they are willing to provide the info for they may feel it's their only chance.

        I find the practice deplorable by corporations and I personally would rather walk away from the opportunity of work, but I'm not in that situation and haven't been faced with it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Almost everyone needs to work. Around the turn of the last century, with the industrial revolution, America decided that "we need to work" was not going to mean laborers are treated like property. Weekends, education, anti-child labor laws, etc. were fought for and well earned.

        Seems that the old idea that "If I cut you a check, I own you, your time, your dignity ..." has been getting stronger for the past 15 years or so. We'd do well to kill that idea.

        • worse than that.

          I have some hardware and software designs that I created entirely on my own, when I was NOT on a job. I've been thinking of productising the idea but have not gotton to the manufacturing stage quite yet.

          here's the csb part: when I applied for a job somewhat recently, I had a recruiter friend of mine review the contract. he suggest I not sign it as it gave the company rights to ALL inventions of mine, even things not related to corp business and even things done on my own time using my own

  • by Anonymous Coward

    We actually need a law for this?

  • by franciscohs (1003004) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:59AM (#41488375)

    Really, I live in a (arguably) much less "free" country and I couldn't imagine anyone would ask something like this as a requirement for hiring.

    What kind of idiot asks this?, what kind of idiot accept it?

    • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:11AM (#41488561)

      what kind of idiot accept it?

      The kind that desperately needs or needs to keep a crappy job in a crappier economy in an even crappier place he can't leave since the housing market went to crap. Or as we prefer to say: "the perfect employee".

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      from early age (in the US, and I bet most countries) you are taught to FOLLOW ORDERS. especially if its an authority figure.

      this is drummed into you at every chance. school is most about 'training' you to be obedient.

      religion endures mostly because people are forced to follow orders, forced (mentally) to accept absurd ideas and 'truth'. taught not to question even strange ideas.

      no wonder that, when an employer or cop asks you for X, most people don't even question or resist.

      you can't foster free thinking

  • You're a spineless asshole if you give it up. You only make more difficult for the rest of us. You're giving up our rights! Yet another strike against majority rule.

    • what about piss tests?

      I say the same thing: if you accept pissing in a bottle to get a job, you have sold yourself (and many of us) out. you make it easier for the company, government to continue to assume you are 'bad' unless proven otherwise.

      "but I don't do this or that! why should I object?"

      either you understand this concept or you don't. its not about your behavior and choices. its about say NO to those that want to invade privacy at every turn, almost always unjustified.

    • by daem0n1x (748565)

      I think this may be a test to spot employees that will put the company's security at risk without even thinking twice about it.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      As has been seen time and time gain, people have got to eat. In order to eat, people need money. You really end up in a place where it's give them what they want, or you can't eat. And this sorts of practices become common among all business.
      That is why we need a law. So the employees have a grounds to stand on.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:01AM (#41488413)

    FB users make a legally binding agreement not to share their passwords as part of the ToS for having a FB account.

  • by trybywrench (584843) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:02AM (#41488431)
    I'd like to see one of these cases in detail because I can't get my mind around how an employee would feel compelled to give up their facebook (or other) private passwords to their employer. Nor can I get my mind around an employer thinking it's within their power to make such a request.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but an employee is protected by law to not even have to tell their employer if they have kids or not let alone access to private information.
    • by Desler (1608317)

      When many people live in states with no right to work the employer can easily let you go and make up a reason to get you denied unemployment. So people will just give in rather than risking termination and having to fight for benefits. People rail on about the 'evil' unions, but the balance of power is hugely against the employee.

      • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:22PM (#41489565)
        When many people live in states with no right to work the employer can easily let you go and make up a reason to get you denied unemployment.

        As many do, you are confusing 'right to work' with 'at will'.

        Right to work involves not being forced into a union as a condition of employment at a certain place.
        At will mean a) they can fire you, just because, and b) you can quit, just because.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Companies will do whatever the can get away with to control and monitor their employees.

      And it's hard to say no when you have to eat.

      • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:03PM (#41489289)

        this is why we need unions.

        corporations were being somewhat tolerable after the union days, 50-100 yrs or so ago. things go measurably better; pretty much for all of society.

        we have fallen backward, though; and we need to restart the fight for employee rights.

        if the republicans have their way, they'll make us all slaves. we cannot allow this trend to continue. please! this is breaking the backs of the working man.

        just another example of unrestrained corp power over the common man.

  • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:02AM (#41488433)

    The federal version was voted down in the House by the Republicans.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/27/facebook-password-protection-amendment-congress_n_1384045.html [huffingtonpost.com]

  • by tnk1 (899206) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:03AM (#41488463)

    What I don't understand is why employers even think this is reasonable. Yes, yes, I know, corporations bad, but corporations are still made up of humans and you would think some of those humans would understand that this is overreaching into people's private lives.

    I don't see what someone's social media accounts have to do with their ability to work. Sure, they may party hard, or bad mouth their employers, but it's not exactly uncommon and it's not going to stop just because people don't put that on their FB account.

    I suppose I am not surprised that someone would try this, what I am more surprised about is that they have gotten this far with it. Forcing people to turn over personal information should be something that a corporate legal department knows is going to get them in legal hot water.

    • hang on, there's not one employer out there who thinks its REASONABLE.

      why do they do this? because, 1) they often can get away with it ('you want that job, don't you?') and 2) they want as much power over you (bargaining) as they can get.

      they don't think its reasonable. but they do it because, quite often, they CAN. and they can benefit from it.

      business has no ethics. none. its not part of a business to BE ethical and fair. at least not in the dog-eat-dog world of the US. we even seem to revel in the

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      corporations bad, but corporations are still made up of humans and you would think some of those humans would understand that this is overreaching into people's private lives.

      This is how bureaucracy works. It claims that there are needs for it to do new things, and then uses those things to justify its existence. HR employees are not your friend, even if they were before you got into a relationship where they're in HR and you aren't. Put people in charge of treating people as resources, and they will apply that view to every situation.

    • by gurps_npc (621217)
      Hiring an employee is an incredible crapshoot. You are risking a LOT of money on them. You want every possible shot ant finding and weeding out the bad apples. This is why corporations used to pull crap like not hiring women (afraid they would get pregnant and quit), etc. etc. Corporations do not have the job of enforcing the law. If there is no clear law on something, they will push it to the edge.
      • you risk very little, in fact.

        most states are 'at will' and corps can fire you pretty easily and make it stick.

        and so, I really wonder why they spend so much time on this. we spend less time and effort searching for a president of the US than some companies spend on hiring.

        if the employee is not a good fit, you fire him. LIKE YOU ALWAYS HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO.

        hiring isn't a marriage. you can end it nearly instantly.

        corps are primadonnas, these days. everything on a fucking platter for his and her highness

        • Hiring an employee typically costs thousands of dollars in headhunting fees, possible hiring bonuses, and training time. Not to mention a bad choice that doesn't work out means wasted time, and a possible lost opportunity on "the right candidate".

          Also when you hire an employee, they now represent your company. If they do something stupid, your company can be sued for what they did. If they sexually harass other employees, they don't get sued - you get sued. If they break the law, your company is liab
    • by cdrguru (88047)

      Right. Asking or demanding this from the prospective employee is just wrong. It is like insisting on a urine test - but saying "right here, right now". I'm not surprised there is a backlash against that sort of thing.

      On the other hand, there is information there and it may be relevant to a hiring decision. Employers want as much information as they can get because choosing wrong is expensive and sometimes even dangerous. So there will be services that deliver this sort of stuff. Where are they going t

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        If I kept a diary, I'm certain there would be information that they would want to see in there too. That doesn't mean they get it. That's the point here.

        Of course, Social Media is social, and you can get some information just by browsing to the page (if it is public). If HR did the search and found me toking up in a FB picture on my own publicly available page, I don't think I could blame them for passing on me. I also would be annoyed, but still not outraged, if someone else posted a picture of me on t

      • by Dog-Cow (21281)

        If a (potential) employer asked for a urine test and said "right here, right now", they'd be getting a piss in the face.

  • by DERoss (1919496) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:10AM (#41488543)

    The celebration over AB 1844 is premature. Governor Brown has not yet signed it.

    • Sorry.

      This morning's Los Angeles Times reports that Governor Brown signed the bill yesterday. It often takes about 2-3 days for the Web site that tracks California legislation to be updated. At this time of year, when the Governor is facing a deadline to sign or veto all bills passed during the just-concluded legislative session, the backlog can be a week or more.

      Along with AB 1844, which applies only to employers, the Governor signed SB 1349, which applies to colleges and universities and prohibits them

  • by MadCow42 (243108) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:11AM (#41488559) Homepage

    And if they actually agreed, I wouldn't hire them (and I wouldn't actually let them give it to me). If they can be so easily coerced into sharing confidential information and giving up their rights, they don't have the backbone I expect in my employees.

    Now, in my job people are given significant authority and responsibility that needs to be safeguarded, so that's a real concern. In other jobs maybe that's not a criteria for hiring decisions.

    MadCow.

    • by alphax45 (675119)
      Good idea!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A leader needs employees with backbone. But employees need to be able to trust their leader, too.

      If you are willing to use those lame tactics on a first interview, I don't want to know what you are willing to do when you get "confident". I would not work for you.

    • by SecurityGuy (217807) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:59PM (#41490089)

      This is one of those things that sounds like a good idea, but isn't.

      Here's why.

      There is probably real and tangible damage that would occur if someone disclosed confidential information on your company. There may or may not be if they disclose their social media profile information to you. It's really not for YOU to assign a value to THEIR resources any more than it is for THEM to assign value to YOURS.

      Your test is also not one of backbone at all, but one of perceived value and desperation. As I said, you may be asking them to give up something they don't value, so they don't mind doing it. Not just perceived, but actual, in many cases. I have older relatives whose facebook profiles are barren. They almost never log in and have 8 friends who also almost never log in. They could post their login and password to the world and not actually lose anything. You may also be interviewing someone who desperately needs to bring some money in to keep a roof over their heads or feed their kids. Everyone has a backbone when the cost of stiffening it is low. Everyone has a point when they have to bend. I will NOT give you my facebook password...unless it's the difference between my kids eating or not. I will NOT give up my right to free speech...but I might shut up now and speak later if you're going to shoot me.

      That's actually why laws like this are good. Asking people who really need a job for information you shouldn't is implicitly coercive.

      Don't play games like this with people. You turn interviews not into true tests of what people are made of, but a silly multilevel thinking exercise where I have to figure out if you're just some jerk who doesn't respect my privacy, or someone who thinks *I* should and is just testing me. Understand that your candidates don't have a way to know which of those people you are.

  • by Dwedit (232252) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:21AM (#41488699) Homepage

    In Illinois, a law like this [ilga.gov] has already been signed, and will take effect on January.

    Reading the text of that law, it doesn't ban employers from using packet sniffers.

    • good point! worth repeating.

      but not only sniffers, man-in-the-middle attacks.

      one interview I had (years ago) with a certain bay area 'security' company was bragging about how they can fool users into accepting ssl certs from their 'firewall'. and once you have their cert, they spy on everything you do (if they so wish).

      once I saw that and understood it, I now ASSUME that every company has a mitm gateway and unless I have a fully clean path that I, personally, installed from trusted media and own the root

  • If I were an employer, I'd ask for the password just to see what type of idiot's actually give them up. Then I'd hire the ones that stand up for their rights, but politely.

  • This just means that if employers want that sort of access, they have to go through official Facebook channels. Why else do you think Facebook supported this?

  • What if the Terms of Service forbids someone allow third party access to their account? What if the Terms of Service forbid the company from accessing an account they do not own? Can Facebook hold the employer accountable?

    • by Todd Knarr (15451)

      No, it's you that violated the ToS, so it's you they'll hold accountable. IMO if the TOS forbid allowing a third party access to my account, my response to an employer asking for access would be "I'm sorry, the terms of service forbid me from doing that. And would you really want me if I demonstrate I'm willing to violate agreements I've made? Like for instance the confidentiality, non-disclosure and non-compete agreements you're going to ask me to sign as part of my employment?". I'd think that'd bring any

  • by cdrguru (88047) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:28AM (#41488821) Homepage

    Or at least until you "friend" someone at the office.

    The problem is, today employment is a high-risk business. You employ the wrong person, fire them and they come back and shoot up the office. [google.com] Or they may sue for some misunderstanding. Remember, the US is a society where people get ahead by suing and getting a big settlement.

    There is also the simple fact that choosing the wrong person to hire results in a lot of costs with just job related things. It costs time and money to train someone and if they do not work out and leave after six months that time and money were wasted, possibly affecting scheduled and having a real impact on revenue.

    All this makes employers want as much information as they possibly can gather about prospective employees and make no mistake about it, you aren't going to change that desire with some laws about social media. If employer's can't get this directly there will soon be services to deliver the information indirectly just as now you can get a complete background check of someone from the Internet. When there is a need that people are willing to pay for, someone is going to fill that need.

    Why is social media relevent? Because the expectation is that you may post things in an unguarded manner that reflect more of your true personality than at a job interview. If the employer can avoid hiring someone that is going to be a problem, they just saved a bunch of money and possibly saved a project from being delayed. You can consider this to be the new sort of "personality test" that was all the rage back in the 1970s.

    Oh, and face reality. The prospective employer probably doesn't care that you got drunk once and someone took some stupid pictures. Now, if you have people publicly commenting about what a drunk you are and how you can barely drag yourself into the office that becomes relevant. Having a comment about how much of a jerk you were to someone isn't all that interesting, but again if you have a bunch of stuff that indicates you're an intolerant child that has to have everything your way... well, you get the picture. It is the same thing as a background check that shows a speeding ticket - not all that relevant. But if you are driving on a restricted license because of a license suspension that might be interesting. Having recently been released from shooting up your former employer's business might just be relevant as well.

    Is all this relevant to being able to do the job? Probably. If you come across as a nice, easy going person in an interview but are in fact quite different on the job it could be a big problem and how is an employer supposed to know? And because of all the problems the employer really wants to know as much as they can. And the information is out there for someone to gather for them.

    Privacy? Once you start exposing yourself online, you have none so you may as well just get over it.

    • by erroneus (253617)

      I have some issues with that perspective. One issue is where the line should be drawn? I don't have a facebook that is in active use. ALLOWING that sort of behavior gives other people who are privacy conscious an unfair edge because (1) they are willing to give up their facebook information and (2) make everyone else look dishonest or all manner of other negative adjectives for even denying that one exists.

      People with moral objections end up looking like the bad people in the end. At this office, we hav

  • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:41AM (#41489011)

    Is it just me, or did they miss the opportunity to make it illegal for public school officials to browbeat Facebook passwords out of children (with or without the aid of law enforcement)?

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:47AM (#41489093) Homepage

    It needs to forbid not just asking for passwords from the candidate, but asking for any kind of access in excess of what an ordinary member of the public would have from anyone (the candidate, the social media site, associates of the candidate, etc.). No requiring the candidate to let you watch him viewing his profile. No asking the social media site to grant you behind-the-scenes access to candidate's profiles. No asking friends of the candidate to let you watch them view the candidate's profile. No special access, period. If the candidate is keeping it from public view, as an employer you don't get special privileges to bypass that.

    But if the candidate's dumb enough to leave it open to the general public, it's fair game. Ditto if his friends post things about him and identify him in them. Though if you trust things other people say about him and they turn out to be false you don't get to avoid any liability that'd attach to that either, so you may not want to go trusting the unsubstantiated word of random people you find on the Internet.

  • If you can find it, since I don't use my real name and photo, you may find out alot about my dog.

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