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WA State Bill Would Allow Bosses To Seek Facebook Passwords 316

Posted by Soulskill
from the no,-go-away dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A bill amendment proposed Tuesday could allow employers to ask for a worker's Facebook or other social media password during company investigations. The provision was proposed for a bill that safeguards social network passwords of workers and job applicants. The measure bars employers from asking for social media credentials during job interviews. The amendment says that an employer conducting an investigation may require or demand access to a personal account if an employee or prospective employee has allegations of work-place misconduct or giving away an employer's proprietary information. The amendment would require an investigation to ensure compliance with applicable laws or regulatory requirements."
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WA State Bill Would Allow Bosses To Seek Facebook Passwords

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  • Solved! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Miseph (979059) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @06:33PM (#43352761) Journal

    This is easily avoided by simply refusing to participate in facebook and other social media. Actually, that solves a lot of really stupid problems. I highly recommend it.

    • Do not bother (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ElusiveJoe (1716808) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @06:44PM (#43352893)

      Those filthy employers who do wish to dig up some dirt would not hire someone without a Facebook account. It'll be considered too "creepy and suspicious".

      • Re:Do not bother (Score:4, Interesting)

        by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @07:52PM (#43353457)

        It'll be considered too "creepy and suspicious".

        As opposed to having current and former employers stalking our facebook pages, which isn't creepy at all.

      • by dbIII (701233)
        Personally I think it's a bit of an excuse for lazy HR workers to waste a huge amount of work time on Facebook. "Researching potential employees" they say (as if that's legit to be going through someone's party photos or whatever), but the web proxy logs have a lot of hits on farmville or whatever the latest facebook game is.

        Logging on as somebody else onto a thing like facebook is really a form of impersonation on a computer network anyway, and there are laws against that. These bosses that take other p
    • Re:Solved! (Score:5, Funny)

      by NatasRevol (731260) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @07:07PM (#43353121) Journal

      I think you forgot to check the Post Anonymously box.

      • I think you forgot to check the Post Anonymously box.

        So did you. And as for me... well, LEEEEEERRRRRooooooy Jeeeenkins!

    • Re:Solved! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @07:12PM (#43353157)

      No because the law is still unjust whether or not it affects you personally, dipshit.

      • Re:Solved! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @09:31PM (#43354135) Homepage

        This has the potential to affect everyone in enormous ways because it takes firm root in a huge crack in our civil liberty protections. We are all aware that there is an enumerated list of things the government is (supposedly) not allowed to do, like conduct searches without a warrant. If they do, that evidence is poisoned and is not supposed to be used at trial (*). But what many people don't know is that private non-governmental agencies are not bound by these rules (**).

        Thus it is entirely possible for the government to wink and nod at an "internal" investigation, or even encourage it, because such an investigation would go beyond government's constitutional boundaries. When the private entity turns over the information so obtained to the government, the government doesn't have a "fruit of the poisonous tree" problem and the evidence can be used in court. The potential for such abuse is huge, especially by megacorps who essentially own the government to the point that whatever is in their own interest, is almost certainly in the interest of the state.

        And of course, this will extend to any password (if not immediately, shortly thereafter) -- email, slashdot, whatever.

        If this law was written such that employers could search people's homes, closets, photoalbums, etc., people would probably understand its breathtaking scope better. From a functional standpoint, people's digital closets and photoalbums should be just as off limits.

        (*) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_of_the_poisonous_tree [wikipedia.org]
        (**) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exclusionary_rule#Limitations_of_the_rule [wikipedia.org]

        • Re:Solved! (Score:5, Funny)

          by formfeed (703859) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @01:19AM (#43355087)

          This has the potential to affect everyone in enormous ways because it takes firm root in a huge crack in our civil liberty protections.

          It has been proven by many /. posters that civil liberty is something for people who sit at home and do nothing and doesn't apply to people who work, have Internet connection, a credit card, or leave their property. So I'll just repeat the main argument for you:

          As soon as you get a job, you agree to a contract. Which means, your body, spirit, and soul belong to the company and they can do to you whatever they want. If you don't like that, you should look for a different owner or wait for the invisible hand to correct the market and retract itself from your cavities. There is just no other way. It might not be perfect, but it is the best system there is.

          Asking for civil rights at the work place is asking for government interference with the market. This leads to mismanagement and a too powerful nanny state that takes direction from any anonymous voter instead of fully invested share-holders. If companies are blocked from accessing your private data, they also lose the ability to fully control you, which might interfere with profit. Anything interfering with profit is a violation of the free market and destroys our most valued freedoms. This ultimately leads to socialism and mass starvation like currently in Europe.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      I'm curious what happens if you say you don't have an account and they don't believe you. Would they be permitted to not hire you?

      • by firex726 (1188453)

        Well it says they cannot ask during the interview phase, but in theory they could hire you then immediately investigate you for misconduct.

    • Re:Solved! (Score:5, Funny)

      by spire3661 (1038968) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @07:27PM (#43353293) Journal
      When they came for facebook, i didn't care because i didn't have a facebook account.

      When they came for reddit, i didn't care because i used throw-aways

      When they came for 4chan, there was no one left but slashdot....

      When they came for us, there was no one left at all.
    • Re:Solved! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DesertBlade (741219) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @07:28PM (#43353311)
      Wrong. They will demand your personal email password (since it is tied to G+) and your slashdot password and your ftp server password and your webhosting password. It is a slippery slope.
    • by camg188 (932324)
      FTA:

      Proponents say that the original bill would open an avenue for possible illegal activity by employees, such as divulging proprietary or consumer information to outsiders through social networks.

      A law like this would be ineffective for the stated purpose. Anybody passing corporate secrets through the internet would set up a dummy account to do it. It's more likely that they would use a usb memory stick or a mobile phone to smuggle out data.

    • Re:Solved! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by msauve (701917) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @08:22PM (#43353699)
      It's even easier than that. If an employer has sufficient reason to believe an employee has broken a contractual commitment, they can sue them and get a subpoena or warrant for the info. There's no reason to allow fishing expeditions.
  • by hsmith (818216) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @06:34PM (#43352771)
    Does the law force one to comply? I think a simple "pound sand" would suffice.

    Granted, you maybe shit canned over it, but such is life.

    I do not agree with the law. If they want it, they should have to go to court and require a judge to force it to be handed over. BS IMO.
    • by sheetsda (230887)

      Granted, you maybe shit canned over it

      You're looking at it all wrong. This is a weapon to get your least favorite office mate shit canned over it.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @06:59PM (#43353039)

      Granted, you maybe shit canned over it, but such is life.

      So basically what you're saying is... if you have money, you can ignore the law, but if you're poor (and thus can't afford to lose your job), you're forced to go along with whatever freedom-eschewing measure your local legislator is cooking up this week to screw you over?

      Yeah... sounds about right.

      • by unrtst (777550)

        Granted, you maybe shit canned over it, but such is life.

        So basically what you're saying is... if you have money, you can ignore the law, but if you're poor (and thus can't afford to lose your job), you're forced to go along with whatever freedom-eschewing measure your local legislator is cooking up this week to screw you over?

        Even better... it's a means to keep the poor very poor, because now they can justifiably fire someone based on what is found after one hands over their passwords, or justify that firing if you don't hand it over, thus there are no unemployment fees to pay.

        In many states, you can be shit canned for no reason at all (aka. "at will employment"). However, if you're shit canned with no reason, you can file for unemployment, and the employer pays half of that. That often deters employers from doing so (and I've s

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Not likely, around here the employers pay the insurance cost and the people that do the adjudication are well aware of that fact. The double standard is just astonishing. They'll require all sorts of evidence from the person trying to claim benefits, but will take the word of the HR troll who may not even have seen any of the evidence.

          Anybody up for unemployment would be well advised to get an attorney as the employer has one in the adjudicator.

          • Perhaps this depends on the state, but when I last filed for unemployment the state withheld it for several months. When I finally got hold of someone there they said my former employer claimed they'd given me a big severance package so I wasn't eligible. I laughed and said I'd not only NOT gotten a severance package, but it was like pulling teeth to get my last regular check from them. The person from unemployment said, "Oh. Okay, you're approved. You should see a direct deposit in a couple days for the fu

        • by anagama (611277)

          However, if you're shit canned with no reason, you can file for unemployment, and the employer pays half of that.

          I am an employer in WA state. The way it works is that you pay the Department of Employment Security a base amount for your employees based on wages. If you lay someone off and they become entitled to Unemployment Compensation, your rates go up a little. If you have no claims over a certain period your rates go down a little. Claims affect an employer's "experience rating" which is a factor

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      In nealry all cases where someone is "allowed" to ask, that means the person asked "may" go get a coffee and come back 15 minutes later. Repeat until they stop asking or you die from caffeine overdose.
    • In case you need a refresher from Schoolhouse Rock:

      http://www.schooltube.com/video/fcde4d15a9276c9a09d3/ [schooltube.com]

    • by cob666 (656740)
      Instead of telling your employer to pound sand, you only have to tell them that Facebook's terms of service clearly prohibits you from sharing your password.
      • by tompaulco (629533)

        Instead of telling your employer to pound sand, you only have to tell them that Facebook's terms of service clearly prohibits you from sharing your password.

        Agreed, anyone who would violate the ToS and hand over their password is not an employee you want to keep. The one that tells you to go pound sand, now there is someone you know you can trust.

    • by yurtinus (1590157)
      If you're under investigation for workplace misconduct or misuse of company proprietary information, you're likely on the way out anyhow. I didn't RTFA or RTFB, but would assume it's meant to make it easier for the employer to carry out an investigation, meaning some means to force compliance around the existing subpoena laws. I can just see this becoming a common practice for people moving on to new jobs. "Oh, moving on? Well time for the standard termination investigation. We'll need your facebook and ema
    • by tompaulco (629533)
      Does the law force one to comply? I think a simple "pound sand" would suffice.
      I don't see how the law could force you to comply. You have signed a binding contract with Facebook to not reveal your password to anyone else, and to do so would therefore be breach of contract, ie. illegal. The law is not allowed to force you to do something which is illegal.
  • Coming up next (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @06:34PM (#43352779)

    Coming up next... An amendment to allow companies to request the keys to your home and vehicle if they are investigating allegations of work-place misconduct. Along with your personal phone records, and a strip search.

    What's the difference?

    • Re:Coming up next (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @06:40PM (#43352857) Homepage

      What's the difference?

      The frog isn't warm enough.

      • Re:Coming up next (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @06:56PM (#43353011)

        What's really bad is, frogs aren't actually this stupid, despite the myth. A frog in a pot of water will jump out if it gets too hot. They may be just frogs, but they're not that dumb.

        But apparently people are.

        • You have to use a double boiler.

          And a lid.

          • by shentino (1139071)

            They already do.

            The double boiler is at will employment, and the lid is you being too piss broke to defy your boss when they demand you fork over your facebook password.

        • by C0R1D4N (970153)
          And who boils live frogs anyway? Wouldn't crab or lobster make for a much better analogy?
          • by manicb (1633645)

            And who boils live frogs anyway? Wouldn't crab or lobster make for a much better analogy?

            Only if you're a terrible chef

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      What's the difference?

      The difference is most of these legislators are ancient and neither want, nor care, about this newfangled "internet" thing. They still use flip phones and eschew anything with more than about 15 buttons on it. As a result, they go along with whatever their sponsors tell them about it. "It's totally not like that!" "Er, okay... *stamp*". We won't be able to fix these kinds of brain-damaged decisions until these dinosaurs are dead.

      Unfortunately, by then we'll have an entire generation that's grown used to the

  • More worrisome, what about AdultFriendFinder, xtube, NAMBLA online forums, etc?
  • And in particular, how do they know you aren't lying if that's what you tell them?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by deadweight (681827)
      Seriously - I wouldn't use Facebook if they paid me to log in to their massive privacy violation engine.
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @06:40PM (#43352855)

    What I do outside of work, on my own time, is not my employer's business. You guys can try passing this law if you want, but it'll be political suicide and the courts will shoot it down faster than you can say "republican in a public restroom caught with a man."

    • by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @06:57PM (#43353027)

      I think that's some extremely optimistic thinking on your part. Why would the courts be willing to strike down something that's so beneficial to corporations? The courts are just as corrupt as the rest of the government.

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @07:08PM (#43353131)

        Why would the courts be willing to strike down something that's so beneficial to corporations? The courts are just as corrupt as the rest of the government.

        True, but the corruption that sticks around is the corruption that goes unnoticed. Let's assume they pass this law, and for some reason it actually is upheld. There will be nobody in a few years using their real name on the internet... a new darknet will spring up promising anonymity and security, because the fact is: Social networking is so massively popular and useful that people won't willingly give it up. What they will do, is manage the risk. Remember Fucked Company back during the dot com bubble? They were being served so many legal subpoenas and warrants a day that they had someone hired to stand at the door and sign for them. Very few of those court actions went anywhere, because they never could track down who made the postings. And that's how it'll be again.

        The laws cannot change human nature. They can only frame and channel it -- and the more it goes against the flow, the greater the amount of force required. The government, for its massive bulk and power, cannot contend with the inertia of the general public. If it wants something, all the guns, bullets, tanks, and laws in the world amount to exactly dick. You cannot stop 300+ million people saying "No." You can only hold back so much before the dam breaks.

        The irony of it all is this cozy relationship between corporations and the government, with each co-opting our liberties for the benefit of the other, is pushing people to embrace new technologies and ways of maintaining their own independence from the superstructure. Look at the "Silk Road". It wouldn't have been possible to create a hidden website on the internet that passes tons of drugs around every day worldwide if it hadn't been for governments trying to restrict the freedoms of the average person. By censoring everyone, enough social pressure was created to cause the invention of a new technology to circumvent that attempt.

        And as a result, not only did the censorship fail, but it also decreased the level of control the government (all governments, actually, worldwide) had over the black market trade of drugs. Laws that do not abide by the commonly-held values of the population it serves become poison to those who try to enforce them.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      It won't be shot down. It's a question of the employer's right to ask, and doesn't indicate that the person being asked is in any way compelled to answer.
    • If you're badmouthing your employer all over the Internet, even on your own time, your employer might validly have some concerns about that.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        If you're badmouthing your employer all over the Internet, even on your own time, your employer might validly have some concerns about that.

        If you're doing it all over the internet, they don't need your passwords to see it happening. There's no reason you shouldn't be able to badmouth them to your friends via the internet, which is the only thing they might conceivably learn about due to this law. If they think you're engaging in corporate espionage, they can already subpoena your social networking records as relates to same. This is useful only for fishing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think the bill should allow employers to have access to all your online accounts, computers, phones, cameras, any storage device electronic or physical, safe deposit boxes, all financial records, vehicles, residence, storage facilities. These rights should be extended to you friends and family members, er accomplices, etc. etc, with all investigations aided and supported by the police.

  • Both ways? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nkwe (604125) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @06:42PM (#43352875)
    So if I think the company may be leaking my personal information or doing something improper do I get the password to the HR and Financial systems, so I (or my lawyer) can investigate my claim?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @06:44PM (#43352889)

    The asshole senator that added this provision has already withdrawn it due to industry objections over possible privacy violations:

    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/House-rejects-bill-that-would-allow-employer-access-to-Facebook-passwords-201316061.html

    Frankly, if this became a law in my state I'd challenge it as a violation of unreasonable search and seizure so fast it would make the idiot senator's head spin. A warrant from a judge might be one thing, but some random employer just saying they requesting the info as part of an official investigation can GO FRACK THEMSELVES.

    • by Improv (2467)

      While I agree with your sentiments, I think your idea that this would amount to unreasonable search/seizure is off because we're not talking about behaviour of the government. The bill of rights don't incorporate to private behaviour, alas.

    • The problem in this case was not with the law.

      The law itself is good - it prohibits companies from demanding a password from you. And yes, you do actually need that law - "unreasonable search and seizure" is a limitation on government, not on private entities. Companies, being the latter, can make rather arbitrary terms for employment contracts that they offer to you, so long as they don't discriminate against protected classes as defined in Federal law. Obviously, people with Facebook accounts are not on t

  • by adamchou (993073) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @06:45PM (#43352923)
    If the company hire a PI to do an investigation, doesn't Facebook already have provisions in their TOS that says they'll give up access to the account?
    • Where did you get that idea? Facebook may not be as vocal as Google about denying requests they aren't required to comply with, but they don't just hand over the info to anyone who asks.

      PIs don't have any special legal authority to access any information. The only thing a PI license allows you to do is to charge the client for investigative services. In that way, ot's just like a cosmetology license or a food handler's permit. Source - I used to be a PI.
  • by toygeek (473120) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @06:50PM (#43352967) Homepage Journal

    Change your facebook password to "I-L0\/3-Tüü-ætP0O" and THEN give it to them.

  • Probably only a matter of time before "our" representatives introduce it again at the behest of their corporate overlords though.

  • by houbou (1097327)
    Nobody should be asked to self-incriminate themselves. More importantly, your social life should have no bearings with your professional life.
    but to be honest, so many idiots do their Facebook and other social stuff at work, morons.
    Still, this is anti-constitutional.
  • by RussR42 (779993)
    This is what happens when you legalize marijuana!
  • ... has been leaking inside information about the 787 battery problems. And Boeing is pissed.

  • I'm pretty sure most terms of service say you won't share your password with anybody.
  • by Eightbitgnosis (1571875) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @07:28PM (#43353317) Homepage
    At 9am this morning the amendment was withdrawn, and the language of the bill changed to include that employers will be required to pay employees $500 along with any damages should they ask for their social media passwords. So no one is getting their social media passwords taken by employers.
    See for your self

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2013&bill=5211 It's under "In the house"
    http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwliveplayer&eventID=2013041032 If you don't believe that then watch the senate themselves withdraw the amendment and change the language of the bill

    This amendment never had a chance in hell, and has been put to death.
  • What if Facebook's TOS forbids logging in as another user? Would it then be legal for the company to do so?

  • You can submit comments about the bill yourself at:

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5211&year=2013 [wa.gov]

    Even though the amendment has already been withdrawn, it never hurts to add your voice in opposition such that it won't be reintroduced. The new system where the public can comment on pending legislation is pretty cool

  • by shentino (1139071) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @08:17PM (#43353647)

    Giving someone your facebook password allows them to change things, and not just to read.

    This would allow my boss to outright plant things on me, and not just go snooping around.

    If I had someone's facebook password and I wanted to compel them, I'd just post something compromising, change their password, and then threaten them with exposure if they didn't do what I told them.

    This will allow bosses to coerce their workers into colluding with corruption.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by smhsmh (1139709)

      There may be conflicting law against the employer.

      See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortious_interference [wikipedia.org]

      It could be argued that agreeing to the terms of Facebook establishes a contract with Facebook. That contract prohibits disclosing one's password to anyone else. Anyone trying to force a violation of that contract could be committing tortious interference, which could be actionable in civil court.

      It might be that Facebook would have no losses in such a violation, but one's friends would have information

  • by v1 (525388) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @08:19PM (#43353673) Homepage Journal

    You want to search my house? Go to a judge and convince them, get a search warrant. Then c'mon in. Facebook password in a divorce case? Sure. Again, judicial oversight.

    But my employer? NO. No, you can't search my house if you have an internal investigation going on me, and NO, you can't ransack my facebook either. If you want into either of those, take it to court like everybody else has to, prove to a judge that you need it.

    I don't see a difference here. And neither should the law.

  • What FB and others need to do is have the ability to set two passwords

    1 your normal day to day password
    2 the "im being questioned by a LEO" password

    if you use the Duress password

    1 They do a reverse DNS on the ip address and make sure it belongs to some sort of Law Enforcement Organization
    2 They pop up a box stating " Duress Password used Call 1-877-???-???? and provide the operator with verification string %string% to enable access for 72 hours"
    3 if this fails then they refer the case to the FBI for prosecution under CyberCrimes

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