"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.
Earlier in the week Blumenthal said he was going draft legislation banning employers from requesting access to Facebook accounts as a term of employment. Legislators in Maryland and Illinois are also pushing state laws to enact prohibitions against a practice they say is not isolated. Recent reports about the issue from MSNBC and the American Civil Liberties Union have also stirred up debate.
The senators' joint letter to Attorney General Eric Holder reads, in part, "We urge the DOJ to investigate whether this practice violates the Stored Communication Act or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The SCA prohibits intentional access to electronic information without authorization or intentionally exceeding that authorization, 18 U.S.C. 2701, and the CFAA prohibits intentional access to a computer without authorization to obtain information, 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2)(C). Requiring applicants to provide login credentials to secure social media websites and then using those credentials to access private information stored on those sites may be unduly coercive and therefore constitute unauthorized access under both SCA and the CFAA."
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.