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House Kills Effort To Stop Workplace Requests For Facebook Passwords 275

An anonymous reader writes "House Republicans today defeated an amendment introduced yesterday that would have banned employers demanding access to Facebook accounts. While the practice isn't widespread, it has caused a big brouhaha after reports surfaced that some organizations were requiring workers to hand over Facebook passwords as a condition of keeping their current job or getting hired for a new one."
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House Kills Effort To Stop Workplace Requests For Facebook Passwords

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  • by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:26AM (#39508377)

    When is the last time Congress passed *any* law that benefited consumers at the expense of corporations? If a near national economic collapse can't even get Congress to reinstate Glass–Steagall [], you think ANYTHING is going to get through without the coporatocracy's seal of approval?

  • From the text. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BStroms ( 1875462 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:32AM (#39508457)

    Oregon Republican Representative Greg Walden responded to Perlmutter during the floor debate by saying:

    I think it’s awful that employers think they can demand our passwords and can go snooping around. There is no disagreement with that. Here is the flaw: Your amendment doesn’t protect them. It doesn’t do that. Actually, what this amendment does is say that all of the reforms that we are trying to put in place at the Federal Communications Commission, in order to have them have an open and transparent process where they are required to publish their rules in advance so that you can see what they’re proposing, would basically be shoved aside. They could do whatever they wanted on privacy if they wanted to, and you wouldn’t know it until they published their text afterward. There is no protection here.

    I'm not so naive as to take his reasoning at face value, but neither am I so cynical as to assume it's a lie outright. The one thing the text does show me is that I don't know enough about how things currently stand or how the amendment is worded to make an informed decision on whether I would have supported it or not.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:38AM (#39508513) Journal
    It's all very simple, really.

    'Consumers' is just a code-word used by deep cover leftists to disguise the fact that they are really talking about "the masses", just like commies. Thus, the only way to Preserve Freedom is to avoid aiding these so-called 'consumers' in any way. Since, by definition, it's only oppression when the state does it, any bad things that should happen to happen to them during interactions with corporations are 100% non-oppressive.
  • by wynterwynd ( 265580 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:40AM (#39508533)

    Isn't Facebook planning to sue companies that do this in a civil court? And aren't there laws in place that effectively prohibit this? (the Stored Communications Act [] and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act [] come to mind - especially since if you RTFA the Justice dept is already looking into whether these would apply)

    I'm all for some Republican-bashing, but we should really consider whether we already have a law in place for this before we add new ones. The legal code is cryptic and mountainous enough as it is without adding unnecessary cruft.

    It also may not have been appropriate as an amendment to this particular bill - note that the article states that Republicans would consider separate legislation.

  • by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:41AM (#39508545)

    There are of course problems with this.

    Yes, I personally would tell an employer to go pound sand. I don't even have a facebook account, but the fact that they do that as part of their interview process would mean it's not a company I want anything to do with.

    I'm also in a position where I can probably find another job after leaving the interview. A lot of people arn't. Times are tough right now, and if it's a choice between losing the house or standing up for your ideals.. a lot of people are going to go for the former. Also worth noting that in a lot of companies, the HR department and the people you are actually working for are very different. The HR guy might be an ass, but the company itself might be great.

    Further to that, right now it is a rare practice. If it catches on it'll become hard to find a decent job without this kind of requirement and we won't get to be smug either.

    I definitely think the law needs to limit what employers can use on the net in the same way they limit things like race/sexuality questions.

  • Re:Why (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:43AM (#39508569)
    The Republicans claimed to be against a practice hated by citizens, yet failed to explain how the amendment they killed does not protect people and failed to propose and alternative to protect people. Vague handwaving about addressing it in the unspecified future is worthless.
  • by meburke ( 736645 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:47AM (#39508621)

    You are jumping to conclusions: It is not the corporatocracy, nor is it a conspiracy. It is just dickering over the reins of power.

    I, for one, am tired of the huge number of bills passed by our lawmakers. Many journalists this week commented on the number of laws passed each year, and most of them agree that we don't even know what they are, so we can't always be sure we are in compliance. In trying to pass comprehensive bills, our lawmakers are trying to "program" human behavior and they use lousy tools. (Imagine trying to write a program to make everyone and everything do exactly what you want done. Now imagine trying to write it in a language that only describes what is NOT allowed.)

    I imagine a day will come when laws are written in explicit classes as objects with explicitly testable functions. (Right...not in My lifetime..)

  • Re:From the text. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdot.spad@co@uk> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:48AM (#39508631) Homepage

    At this point, American politics has become so partisan and so self-destructive with your elected officials taking more and more extreme positions on endlessly unimportant issues that I'm amazed any of you are willing to support the Republicans or Democrats.

  • Re:From the text. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:50AM (#39508661)

    I'm starting to think that Republicans are actively trying to drive us moderate Republicans away.

    Wow, you're just now catching on to that? They've been doing that since the 80's. The reasoning behind it is to increase party discipline and put the Dems on the defensive by playing a strong offense. I would say that's crazy, but I have to give it to them, the strategy has worked VERY well. By tightening up the party and eliminating moderate voices, the Republican party has become VERY disciplined--to the point when they can control Congress even when they're in the minority. Compare that to the Democrats, who are so fractured and undisciplined that they can't pass a law even when they have a clear majority. What's more, by driving their party farther to the right (so much so that Reagan probably couldn't even run in the modern Republican Party), they have driven the Dems to the right too. The modern Democratic party is further right than the Nixon Administration at this point.

    Crazy a strategy as it looks on paper, you can't argue with success.

  • Re:From the text. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:52AM (#39508683)

    I left years ago. The republican party now panders to social conservatives. If you're fiscal or believe in small government it's not for you.. In fact, there is no party that's good on fiscal or small government issues anymore. Libritarians try, but most of them have some crazy social agenda as well.

    Since everyone wants it to be about social issues, I vote that way now. That means unfortunately for democrats. i don't believe the government should tell people what to do with their bodies or in their bedrooms.

  • by royallthefourth ( 1564389 ) <> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:59AM (#39508773)


    It's a labor issue, not a consumer issue.

  • by E_Ron.Eous ( 2521544 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:17AM (#39508953)
    Since a request such as this would violate your 4th Amendment rights, it is fully within the purview of the Congress to legislate against such an intrusion. All corporations are within scope as they are creations of legislatures.
  • by poity ( 465672 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:17AM (#39508965)

    After reading the article, you can tell submitter left off a significant portion of the context in the summary. Even in the Republican's statement of opposition to the amendment, it's clear that they don't want employers access to employee passwords. It's probably useful to also look up the bill that the amendment tries to fix. H.R. 3309 is a bill that outlines new procedure for the FCC in its rule making process. It mostly has to do with transparency, 30-day public overview of new regulations, etc. You can read it here []

    So in a bill that is altogether unrelated to pro-privacy legislation, some rep proposes a highly specific instance where the FCC would be immune to the outlined procedure. It's kind of like adding an amendment to a general police powers bill that suspends proper procedure in a highly specific instance like when they catch a carjacker. Sure that sounds good to people who have suffered from car jacking or are afraid of what carjackers can do, but does it make sense to be in this bill or would it be better in a separate bill? I understand the sense of urgency that people feel, and I'd probably agree with those who want some federal rules on what employers can demand of their workers. However, it's also not unreasonable when you read the amendment to think that it doesn't really belong in this particular bill.

    The more I think about the context, the more it looks like a way for a rep on one side to embarrass the other side without trying to do anything significant. You can probably put this in the same category as "think of the children" amendments that come from the Republican side meant to embarrass their opposition politically in the realm of public opinion. Only this time it comes from the Democrat side. What saddens me is that since the summary puts Republicans in a bad light, we at /. are more willing to take the summary at face value, and don't get as many nitpickers willing to pore through the context to find the bullshit.

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:25AM (#39509103)

    needs to be a law. corporations ONLY fear laws. they don't fear market pressure since they completely control that.

    only something with teeth (legal stuff) will force a corp to change, these days.

    this is why the redundant law is needed. to 'send a clear message'. again. and yes, it IS redundant but the first law didn't scare the corps enough, it seems.

    it will help employees a lot more if they can say 'you know, they just passed a new LAW about forbidding to ask these details...'. that will silence the company much more than your walk-out protest ever will.

  • by datavirtue ( 1104259 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:43AM (#39509459)

    There are no leftists in Washington. If there are, then they are hiding in a corner waiting for the right moment to strike (pun intended?). The people who are there are corporatists--for lac of a better word. It matters not, who or what struck this down, only that they serve concentrated interests and that we are arguing over a ruse.

  • by StatureOfLiberty ( 1333335 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:46AM (#39509545)
    re: "Frankly, the employer ought to be able to ask any damn think they want in an interview."


    Are you a Christian?
    What denomination?
    How much did you give to your church last year?

    Do you have children?
    How many children do you have?
    How many hours a week do you spend helping them with homework?
    Does your spouse work?

    How old are your parents?
    How much time do you spend caring for them each week?

    re: "If some protections are really necessary, this is entirely within the power of the individual States."
    Do you (or your spouse) use or have you ever used Birth Control for the purpose of preventing pregnancy? (Arizona)

    Plus, it's not like corporations operate within one state. So, in one state they couldn't ask for my Facebook login and in another they can? How does that make sense? So, if I get hired in New York and then transfer to [insert nutty state here (plenty of them lately)] they can tell me they want my social media login information or can ask about private matters such whether or how someone in the family uses birth control?

  • Re:From the text. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Caffinated ( 38013 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @11:01AM (#39509857) Homepage
    So, in short, they're Democrats? You outline a passel of issues that would fall into the mainstream of the Democratic party, with a few outliers, but almost none align with the republican party of today.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @11:20AM (#39510225) Homepage Journal
    News at 11.

    If you work for a living, Republicans are not your friend. If your color spectrum falls outside 'beige', Republicans are not your friend. If your language is something other than English, Republicans are not your friend. If you're a woman, Republicans are not your friend. If your religion is something other than "Christian", Republicans are not your friend. If you don't toe the ENTIRE party line completely and unquestioningly, Republicans are not your friend. You may think you share their values, but if you fall into the above categories they do not like you and will never like you. They will say they do because you can't be THAT exclusionary and get anyone elected and they know that, but don't EVER think that they like you.

    Go read Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged." This is what Republicans actually believe. The world they want to bring about is an awesome place if you're a rich white man. The fact that everyone else will be living in varying degrees of squalor is something that does not bother them. Perhaps they simply choose not to think about it -- they don't like to think about "those people" if they can avoid it.

    If your employer starts asking for private passwords, start talking to the other employees about forming a union. Nothing makes employer assholes clench tighter than union-creating discontent in the ranks.

  • Re:From the text. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @12:04PM (#39511007)

    So, in other words, someone who should NEVER vote for the Republican party. 95% of what you say would make you a Democrat. The other 5% libertarian maybe. None of this is in line with any current Republican policies.

  • by IronOxen ( 2502562 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @12:52PM (#39511813)
    If I was interviewing a candidate for an IT position and that candidate freely gave me his passwords when I asked, there is no way I would hire him or her. In fact, if I was hiring for any position where the candidate would have access to sensitive corporate data or anything else that a company would not want disclosed to the public or competitors, I wouldn't hire an individual who gave up their password. If they offered to provide me with screen shots or print outs of their social networking pages, fine. But to hand over control of their account under any circumstances would automatically disqualify the individual for the job in my eyes. People like that are how users with just enough knowledge to be dangerous (or worse, someone with bad intent on a fishing expedition) end up with domain admin rights.
  • by yurtinus ( 1590157 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @02:31PM (#39513327)
    Oh that's the word! I always get those three mixed up.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN