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Senators Ask Feds To Probe Facebook Log-in Requests 396

thomst writes "Cnet's Michelle Meyers reports that democratic senators Richard Blumenthal and Charles Schumer have asked the Justice Department to investigate what they call a 'new disturbing trend' of prospective employers demanding job applicants to turn over user names and passwords for their social networks. 'Employers have no right to ask job applicants for their house keys or to read their diaries — why should they be able to ask them for their Facebook passwords and gain unwarranted access to a trove of private information about what we like, what messages we send to people, or who we are friends with?' asked Schumer. Last Friday, in response to complaints from employees, Facebook published a post expressing its opposition to the practice, which it said undermines both the security and the privacy of the user and the user's friends. Erin Egan, the company's chief privacy officer for policy, offered that employers who demand password information for prospective employees might just end up getting sued."
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Senators Ask Feds To Probe Facebook Log-in Requests

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  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:21AM (#39473891) Homepage
    If you don't want to hand over that information, then don't. If employers hear this enough, then maybe they will start to smarten up. If the only people they can hire are the ones stupid enough to give up their Facebook passwords, they probably won't be getting any great employees. That said, there's a lot of people who will probably feel they have no other choice. Just like employers often require drug tests, references, and personality tests. You could always tell them you don't have an account. Being in a technology related field, I think it would be an interesting test of somebody's security/privacy mentality to ask them for their password, with no intention to use it, but those who refuse to give the password are probably the ones you want to hire.
  • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:23AM (#39473917)

    Oh, and yes... I know they can search for you if you use your real name and have a public profile. That to me seems silly. If I were on a social network it would be under an alias and would be private so they couldn't search for me.

    Yes, I know- technically aliases arn't allowed... but facebook would have no better way of knowing my real name was not Billy Bob Beerhouse then Slashdot would that my real name isn't Oswald McWeany.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:25AM (#39473935)

    Facebook, who cares. I used it for 6 months, net effect slight negative (lots of wasted time, nothing productive happened because of FB) so I deleted it some years back. I'm not so worried about HR floozies asking for my facebook account. I do worry about clueful supervisor asking for my /. account login and/or name. That could be awkward. "Looking for senior sysadmin, /. UID below 100K preferred, no eight digit UID noobs or goatse posters please"

    I think the real concern is FB is/was/will sell, at some expense, full access to anyones account for HR purposes, and they're pissed off that some HR floozies are sneaking around to backdoor their profitable little sales channel. If I tell Ms H R Floozie my password and she logs in as me, how is FB supposed to send HR a $250 bill for social network consultative services, Ms Floozie has already seen all my furry pics and fan status for the NORML page, so she's not about to pay FB to learn the same thing...

    FBs only hope is to sell full access to not just my account, but full access to all my friend's accounts... I can give Ms HR Floozie my complete login info, but not me friend's info. Although I suppose asking applicants to ask their FB friends for their login info is the next logical step against that.

    One possible hope for FB is to stock the hell out of FB with all kinds of protected stuff, like orientation (thats protected, isn't it?) and race and especially religion, and then crucify people (err, HR I mean) in the courts if they fail to hire someone who is a christian/jew/black on their uncensored page. They can sell access to a carefully censored for legal purposes portal for HR to use that somehow magically removes all references to Jehovah and the flying spaghetti monster.

    Speaking of the FSM, his G+ page is better than I expected.

  • Drawing the line (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:25AM (#39473939) Journal
    A lot of my co-workers are friends on Facebook, and I've received requests from them to be friends. I politely declined, explaining that I like to keep a strict line between my work & my private life. If I was applying for a job and they did not want to respect my desire for some form of privacy, I'd probably just throw out the application. If it was during an interview, I'd probably tell them "Thanks, but no thanks" and walk out.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:26AM (#39473947) Journal
    HR presumably just assumes that you are either telling the truth, and must be a radical isolationist living in a mountain cabin amidst heaps of antigovernment screeds and bomb-making apparatus, or lying because your real facebook profile is nothing but pictures of you doing things that would Reflect Poorly On the Reputation Of The Company. Circular file.

    Anybody who feels comfortable demanding extremely intrusive access to personal information will likely not even think twice about assuming that anybody who isn't as transparent as the norm probably has something to hide.
  • by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:26AM (#39473949)

    You are on slashdot.

    You can friend people, have a journal, post articles and discuss crap.

    You are on a social network.

  • by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:28AM (#39473977)

    I'm hearing a lot about this, but I have yet to actually find someone who will confirm that they've been asked to hand over their account information. While I agree that employers should not be asking for this information, I suspect that a lot of this noise is just noise.

    I want to see people name names. List the companies that are asking for usernames and passwords.

  • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:29AM (#39473981) Homepage Journal
    Pah! So what happens to people like me with no social network? The can't ask me to send something I don't have.
    Asking for your facebook password is the modern equivalent of asking that you turn over your "Little Black Book" or your Dayrunner (Remember those?) to the company. This goes far beyond what an upstanding company would do, but is not illegal. This is one of those areas where there is no law because you shouldn't have to legislate common sense. Unfortunately, it looks like we are going to have to make a law because common sense seems to have gone extinct.
  • by metlin ( 258108 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:32AM (#39474027) Journal

    Seriously? Just because you're antisocial and do not care about being on a social network because of your tinfoil hat does not mean the rest have to follow suit.

    No matter what social network I'm on, it is reasonable to expect a semblance of privacy, especially if any information I share is for consumption only within my friends in that network.

    While I'm unsearchable on Facebook, most of my friends on Facebook are from college and there's a certain degree of immaturity in our interaction. However, that is in no way representative of any of us in real life, and judging how we interact with our close friends from college is just silly.

    So yes, you can have your tinfoil hat and not be a part of any social network. You can also hide yourself. But that defeats the purpose -- the idea is to interact and be *social* with others that you meet.

    But that in no way should affect my expectation of privacy. What I share publicly is one thing, but forcing me to share what I share with a close circle of friends is plain wrong. And I will fight tooth and nail to keep my privacy.

  • Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrAlt ( 3208 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:37AM (#39474085) Homepage Journal

    How about a probe in to how companies use people's credit reports for hiring decisions?

    How is that OK but looking at people's facebook page NOT?

  • by Br00se ( 211727 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:37AM (#39474089)

    I don't know about other countries, but in the US, employers may not ask about the following.

            National origin
            Marital/family status

    Let the person asking the question know that by asking for the Facebook information, they are using a back door approach to gather information they are not entitled to ask and that you object to giving that information.

    Any reasonable employer would not want that legal liability.

  • Cuts both ways (Score:2, Insightful)

    by D66 ( 452265 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:40AM (#39474137)

    What we seem to be missing is that we have 2 senators defining digital data in the same terms as personal possessions and papers. Using THIS argument as a starting point, I can see a good opening for the EFF and ACLU to step in and require like protections on Digital data from Government search and seizure.

    The Constitution protects your possessions and papers from unreasonable search and seizure, however, megaupload and a dozen other events have shown that Law enforcement sees Digital data as something "else"

    Based on this, we know at least 2 Senators making the argument that they are the same. Digital Data should be protected at the same standard as a person's papers. Warrants required for any search. It is time we de-romanticize the digital world.

  • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:40AM (#39474139)

    Seriously? Just because you're antisocial and do not care about being on a social network because of your tinfoil hat does not mean the rest have to follow suit.


    I've found aluminium blocks the rays better.

    If you are unsearchable then you don't exist. Thus nothing to hand them.

  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:44AM (#39474177)

    Anybody who feels comfortable demanding extremely intrusive access to personal information will likely not even think twice about assuming that anybody who isn't as transparent as the norm probably has something to hide.

    Anybody who feels comfortable providing extremely intrusive access to personal information will likely not even think twice about providing strangers access to company confidential data, and should not be hired.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:46AM (#39474207)

    I may be anti-social, but I am not a nut and my reasons to avoid the plague of social networking are that
    a) I don't want to waste tons of time and
    b) I don't want to give _them_ all my data.
    c) What is the point? Having thousands of "friends" to cover up I am anti-social?

    Fortunately, I am pretty sure that here such a demand by an employer would be illegal (possibly criminal) anyways. They can have a social networking policy though, that limits what you can post about them. And you are not allowed to bad-mouth your employer in public anyways.

    Side note: This is exactly why pseudonymous accounts are needed.

  • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:52AM (#39474277) Homepage Journal

    I know this is a joke, but this is the type of B.S. conclusion that H.R. folks are now TRAINED to jump to. There are tons of these.

    The one that has been making me angry lately is: "the person sent their resume in PDF so we will throw it away since they must not know Office and thus be computer illiterate." It's the exact OPPOSITE of what you want as the person probably used PDF to be friendly to cross platforms. I had a recruiting officer give me a lecture about this while I was job hunting. I don't even own a copy of Microsoft Office.

    I think H.R. procedure is akin to voodoo right now.

  • by psychonaut ( 65759 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:56AM (#39474319)

    Employers have no right to ask job applicants for their house keys or to read their diaries

    Really? What law prevents them from doing that? I was under the impression that, at least in the US, employers can ask prospective employees almost whatever information they damn well please. The only exceptions I'm aware of is stuff that could then be used to illegally discriminate against you, such as your religion and race. Unless something in your house or in your diary exposes you as a member of a protected class, then why couldn't a prospective employer insist on seeing them? It's not as though you are obligated to consent.

  • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:56AM (#39474333)

    That's silly. You should have explained to them that you don't need to belong to a social network to understand the concepts. And if they can't understand that, you should grab the nearest large object and bash their head in until they do. And then tell them they are too stupid to work for and spit on them as you leave.

    Seriously, though. Any HR person who can't understand that using and understanding are different things will just cause you endless trouble if you were to be an employee. It's best to turn those jobs down.

  • by GmExtremacy ( 2579091 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:58AM (#39474355)

    Just because you're antisocial and do not care about being on a social network because of your tinfoil hat does not mean the rest have to follow suit.

    Why exactly do you assume he's antisocial? Why do you assume he's wearing a tinfoil hat? What if someone doesn't care about social networks, like me? I just don't find them useful.

    I know it can sometimes be difficult to comprehend that different people have different preferences and needs, but come on.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:03AM (#39474409)

    I'd probably have two. One "family friendly" for... well, you know, family. And one for friends who neither family nor employer should encounter.

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:04AM (#39474417) Journal

    Really easy for you to say when you have not been on unemployment for over a year, your wife is about ready to leave you, your house is in foreclosure, repo guys are going to come take your car away, and the collection agencies you around the clock demanding you pay them back and harassing your family members.

    In such a scenario is unfortunately, very typical in this economy for those who got laid off at the absolute worst time.

    What are you going to do? So no sir Mr. potential boss. You can kiss my ass. My wife will gladly accept this, and my kids really didn't need to be fed anyway etc.

    You will do it and not only will you bend over, but you will be happy with no lube and have a big smile on your face. Anything is better than not working right?

    Employers are taking advantage of people in a bad situation and it is disgusting. I know I am an evil socialist for dare saying the government get involved, but this is where it is a good case to do so. This is not 1999 anymore where employers compete with you if have any reasonable talent. Today, they do not care and can under pay, overwork, and make unreasonable demands because their competitors are doing it and why not?

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:05AM (#39474427)

    99.9% of the people who don't have facebook accounts consider their privacy private and want to keep it that way, and that's something some employers don't really want.

    Nonconformists are not really wanted in some environments. They don't bend to peer pressure easily and hence are hard to control.

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