Md. Lawmakers Mull Over Bill To Prohibit Employers From Asking For Facebook Passwords

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Standard practice? Or privacy invasion? Some companies are now asking employees to hand over their Facebook passwords. Now, Facebook is firing back.

Meghan McCorkell has more on the privacy controversy.

We’ve known for a while that employers do look at your public Facebook page. But now, some are taking it a step further. Imagine handing over your Facebook password to your boss! That means every single one of your status updates, every single photo in your photo album, even your private direct messages.

“I was just mortified. I just thought that crossed the line,” said Robert Collins, who was asked for his Facebook password by a potential employer.

Collins was asked to give his password while interviewing for a job at the Maryland Department of Corrections.

“I’m like, ‘So what exactly are you doing? What are you looking for?'” Collins said.

“‘I’m looking through your messages, through your wall, through your pictures and through your posts to make sure that you’re not flashing any gang signs or involved in any illegal activity,'” Collins was told.

Now Facebook is firing back. In a statement, the social media site condemns companies that ask for passwords saying: “We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or– where appropriate– by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges.”

And lawmakers in Annapolis agree. They’re considering legislation that would prohibit employers from asking for your username or password.

“I think it’s very invasive, because so many people have a lot of personal information in their social media sites,” Melissa Goemann of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said.

The ACLU is fighting to get that bill passed.

“It’s similar to tapping a phone and listening to phone conversations,” Goemann said.

Conversations many don’t want public.

The bill has passed in the Senate. It’s currently waiting on a vote from a House of Delegates committee.

The Department of Corrections has changed its policy. They now ask job applicants to voluntarily show them their Facebook page.

More from Meghan McCorkell
Comments

One Comment

  1. wideblindeye says:

    That this was ever an issue is absurd. It is appalling how little privacy means to these different entities. Looking through someone’s mail is a federal offense. Private digital messages and materials should be afforded the same protections.

    1. KIM says:

      BLIND MAN FACEBOOK SOLD YOU OUT NOT ONLY THAT YOU HAVE NO PRIVACY ON THE INTERENET.

    2. Murphy says:

      This has 2 aspects. Not only does the employer gain access to your most “private” conversations such as discussing with your husband/wife your plans for a private evening alone but it gives them power over you. With your password, they are able to post things in your name that you have not given them permission to. They can block you off from your own account by changing your password and then hijacking it to not only ruin your name but also get you into legal trouble. You might say that these things will not happen but we all know that a “boss” would have no qualms about nosing into private messages or retaliating against you if you ever displease them or disagree with them or put in 2 weeks notice or even if they have pre-employment issues with you.
      How would you like to get the job only to find that the employer has spammed rascist comments on your page in order to have an excuse to fire you at will? The purpse of looking at your facebook page is to see what kind of “image” you put out to the public so that you dont make the employers look bad. They can see what image you put out to the public by looking at your public profile. No password is needed to do that.

      1. Murphy says:

        Of course, you can always make a fake facebook account with your name on it and post up stuff that is “pro-whatever company you are applying to. I’m assuming that when they ask for your password to your account, you can choose what account to give them a password to.
        We all know that there is no privacy on the internet. The issue is why make it so easy for people to get access to private conversations that are NOT posted for the world to see or “blasted out there”?

    3. tammy rice says:

      Just say no. I realize that’s easier for me than others due to my line of work – it’s not that hard to find a good job. For other people, I am glad that ACLU is stepping in because too many will feel compelled to hand it over.

      I’d suggest something along the lines of “Sure, give me your house keys…”

      It’s a witch hunt. Don’t play along. If you submit to unwarranted search before employed by that company, what do you think you are in for once you work for them????

  2. wheres common sense when you need it says:

    If my employer or potential asked me for my personal password, I would personally show him the universal “gang” symbol and walk out! People need to wise up and stop employers from intimidating them. Its only a job and that is all! Remember, if you don’t stand up for yourself, nobody else will either!

    1. Ed W says:

      “Its only a job and that is all! ”

      For some people, that job may mean a heck of a lot- losing their home or not, being able to care for an elderly family member or not, being able to feed & educate their kids or not, have health care or not… Not everyone can afford to blow off someone who might hire them.

      @ wildblindeye- if you want somethng to be truly private, posting it to a social medial site like Facebook or Twitter is the last thing you want to do! Once something is on the net it is, in effect, there forever, someone who was once a friend but later not can pass it on & accounts on those sites do get hacked. Social media websites are not really all that private.

      That all being said, employers should not be able to ask for passwords, but of course they can check to see what you have posted publically and could potentially access anything you do from their computer at work. If they have a keystroke trojan on their system, they would get all you passwords anyhow- so don’t use your employer’s computer to access anything you would not want them to see or that they would fire you over. Employers have every right to monitor activity on their own computers, so do your personal email & social networking from home on your own time!

      1. sunnybrk says:

        I totally agree Ed. I’ve warned our kids & G-kids for years to be very careful when posting anything online. It’s asking for trouble somewhere down the line. Even so, this is an outragious invasion of privacy which must be stopped!

      2. wheres common sense when you need it says:

        @Ed: Your right, most people don’t have the intelligence to be able to flip burgers at Burger King because they were taught how to do it the McDonalds way. Uneducated people don’t have the ability to be choosy when it comes to getting a job, so who’s fault is that? If the only job you can do requires you to give up your personal freedom, sorry for your luck. People are always “being” educated for that “one” job and when that “one” job is gone, they become just as dumb as someone who has no education. The way to succeed today is to educate yourself, not on “one” thing, but any and everything around you. When a person is proficient in more than one skill, he or she has the ability to “blow” off a job because they can, because they have a power that employers can’t take from you, and that is a CHOICE! Some employers use fear (of losing the job) to keep the little elves in line but once that fear is gone you will find that happiness that affords you the skill of being able to tell them to “take this job and shove it!’ The salary for this is PRICELESS!

      3. SMOKIN says:

        This is how it goes if you want this you goto do that when does it stop —would you feel the same if youo wife or husband needed their jobs but had to have sex with the boss or supervisor —-really when does it stop ????????You can say what you want but they have been going further and further over the line –your rights are nothing so just let them do what they want for what ever reason they want —you wont have to think anymore they will just tell you what to do

    2. LINDA says:

      DON’T WRITE IT ON THE INTERENET IF YOU CAN’T BACK IT UP. OR DON’T WRITE IT ON THE INTERENET IF YOUR SENSITIVE, OR CASE SENSITIVE.

  3. Truth Telling says:

    Over the line for sure. Hey, H.R. person, let me see YOUR private pages. Maybe I don’t want to work for your company after I read them.

    1. WENDY says:

      I’AM NOT SURPRISED YOU PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEAL YOU ARE BEING MONITORED ON THE WEB, INTERENET. IS IT JUST THE MEN TALK MORE THEN WOMAN THESE DAYS. FACEBOOK OMG WHAT A WASTE

  4. peterpan says:

    My life was fine before FB & it will be ok when I dump it. This is an invasion of privacy though & I believe an intrusion on our 1st amendment rights.

  5. Dave says:

    Hmmmm…. So they’ve changed their policy so that they now ask you to “volunteer” your Face Book info. If you refuse I’m sure the rest of the interview will go well… ummm… yeah….

    1. jarrett622 says:

      Exactly the same thought I had while reading that part…

  6. WHATHHESAY says:

    FACE BOOK IS FOR KIDS,,,GROW UP AMERICA

  7. DEBBIE says:

    IF YOU WANT YOUR PRIVACY . DON’T PUT IT OUT THERE . YOU WAS WARNED WHEN ALL THIS CAME OUT. IT WAS SUBJECTED TO BE LOOKED OUT

  8. PAM says:

    THESE VERY COMMENTS WE MAKE CAN BE TRACED. THIS IS NOT A PRIVATE PRACTICE. YOU ARE BEING TRACKED, FOR ADVERSTISMENT AS WELL WE YOU LIVE

  9. TERRY says:

    YOU FOLKS MADE THE OWNER OF FACEBOOK BILLIONS, AND YOU HAVE BEEN SOLD OUT AS WELL. I AGREE GROW UP AMERICA

  10. KAREN says:

    THERE IS NO PRIVACY. THERE IS FREEDOM OF SPEECH BUT NO PRIVACY. FOLKS HOW IGNORANT CAN YOU BE

  11. SHARON says:

    FACEBOOK IS FOR LOSERS

  12. MAGGIE says:

    FACEBOOK HAS MADE BILLIONS OFF YOU FOLKS. YOU JUST REFUSE TO WISE UP, GROW UP. IF YOU FLAP YOUR A## OUT THERE SOON OR LATER YOU WILL GET ATTENTION. WHETHER IT BE GOOD OR BAD IS YOUR CALL. YOU SHOULD HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE

  13. LOU says:

    FACEBOOK I RATHERPICK UP AND USE A FREAKING PHONE. IMAGINE THAT

  14. STACY says:

    face it , facebook, no privacy, why would you put you junk out there? may be stupidty

  15. Ballsohardclub says:

    When you are 70 yrs plus, in poor health, who gives a fat fuc what I or anybody elses my age has to say on FB or any where else.

  16. Bill says:

    This is just the next step in socialism.We used to fight for countries to be free from tyranny. Did we not just end Irags rule of terror? Government rule? We are under the fearing Democratic rule? Mr. O fears Educated Americans.

    1. 1-0-3-0 WITHERSPOON says:

      BILL ITS IN WRITING AND NOT SPEECH. BIG DIFFERENCE,,,,GET A GRIP ON YOUR SELF BILL. IF YOU DO NOT WANT IT OUT THERE DO NOT WRITE IT, NO BIG DEAL,,,,WISE UP. HERE IS A TIP FOR YOU BILL, DELEWARE , NO TAXES THE ENTIRE STATE AND NO DEFICIT,,,,,ARE YOU GETTING IT YET BILL

      1. yousefthe giant says:

        There’s taxes in Delaware. No sales & income state but that is changing with all the coons coming in from Philly & Balto. Just wait & see.

    2. Murphy says:

      Pssssttt… It is the democrats who are for educating Americans. If you want to look at someone who fears educated Americans, look to the right.

  17. TJ says:

    IT IS EITHER ONE OR 2 THINGS. A PLOY FROM THE FEDS TO MONITOR OUR EVERY FACET OF OUR LIVES OR IT IS A MEANS FOR EMPLOYERS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM HIRING UNSAVORY EMPLOYEES. NOW WHAT ARE WE TO DO GUESS WHICH ONE IT IS?

  18. Myself says:

    The Facebook EULA is a legal contract, it clearly states that you are not allowed to give out your password. Asking you to violate a contract as part of an employment agreement is already illegal.

  19. Michael says:

    I know it is up to the employer to decide what they need for you to work at their business (Within reason), but this is outrageous. Maybe I can “Friend” you on facebook, and after a week of you seeing my activities (Which in no way pertain to any job I’m applying for), I can defriend you. But my bet is if you ask employees for their password, you’ll soon be out of employees.

  20. tammy rice says:

    SMOKIN, that’s illegal. It’s called sexual harrassment and is a crime. anyone pressured to have sex as a job requirement has legal protections. say no and then head for HR or a local atty.

    1. Murphy says:

      Yet it happens anyway and people are afraid to say anything because of the repercussions and the need to have a job. Even if they press charges and win the case, they are labeled as a whistle blower and blackballed from other jobs.
      The social and political rape that a boss can do to you by having your password can be bad as well.
      Imagine waking up to find that your boss had accessed your social media through your computer at work and posted racial slurrs and sent sexually suggestive messages to everyone on your friends list in order to wreck your marriage and personal friendships and so forth. Not only can they invent reasons to fire you in this way but rape/wreck your life from that point on where you have to spend the rest of your life proving to people that it was not actually you. You know, that not only would you never be able to fix that damage but it would also follow you through to other jobs that research you.
      I know this is an extreme example but it IS a possibility and it is a possibility that we all know would happen to someone eventually.

  21. Jasmine says:

    Just a quick note to mention how great I think it is that this is ioncrporated into the website. As Youth Leader at St G’s I rarely get to hear Rev CJ’s sermons as I’m involved with our youth group. I have really enjoyed taking time out of my Monday to hear the Word. Thanks CJ Scott Currie

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