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

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Meghan McCorkell joined the Eyewitness News team in July 2011 as a...
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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.

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