Mary Franson introduces bill blocking employers from asking for social media passwords

Mary Franson.JPG
Franson is the unlikely impetus behind a piece of common-sense legislation.
Mary Franson has caused us to shake our heads a couple times already this month -- first when she compared food stamp recipients to wild animals, then again when she outed herself as a careless driver to "scoop" the Strib's Jon Tevlin.

But today, instead of shaking our heads at her, we're nodding along with her.

According to Minnesota politics blog Bluestem Prairie, Rep. Franson, R-Alexandria, has introduced a bill prohibiting employers from asking employees for social media passwords as a condition of employment. All of the bill's other House co-authors are Democrats.

Franson's bill is a response to a slew of media reports detailing how employers are more and more often asking prospective employees for their Facebook and Twitter passwords as conditions of employment.

From CNN:
city pages facebook.jpg
Employers are increasingly curious about your social media social life.
Robert Collins of the Baltimore area has said that he was looking to be reinstated to his job as a correctional officer in 2010 when he was asked for his Facebook password.

"I did not want to do it, but because I really needed my job and he implied that this was a condition of recertification, I reluctantly gave him the password," Collins said in February in testimony before the Maryland House of Representatives, which is considering ACLU-backed legislation to block such practices.

"He then proceeded to log in to my account using my private credentials. I asked him, 'Why are you logging on?' He said, 'I am looking through your messages, on your wall and in your photos to make sure you are not a gang member or have any gang affiliation.'"

An Associated Press report this week highlighted Justin Bassett, a New York statistician who said that, during a job interview, the interviewer pulled up his Facebook page and asked for his password. He said he refused.

The ACLU said it's found an increasing number of companies with such policies on Facebook. They say it's more common with public agencies, such as law enforcement.
Asking someone for their password is actually a violation of Facebook's terms of service, but a company spokesperson recently said Facebook has no plans to take legal action to stop the practice.

Franson's bill would nip the privacy-violating password-sharing trend in the bud here in Minnesota. And, as strange as it is to say this about a bill introduced by a Republican who believes the poor just need to lace up their boots a little tighter to lift themselves out of poverty, that's legislation we can get behind.

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7 comments
JonnyBeGood
JonnyBeGood

WTF? We don;t need laws we just need common sense - don't give out any information that relays to using computing resources.  Period.  That is what the background check is for...

truckload_bear
truckload_bear

I wonder what a prospective employer will do when they find out that I refuse to have a FB account? Call me a liar and toss my resume in the circular file?

Jeremy B
Jeremy B

Why are email accounts specifically excluded?Change "in order to gain access to the employee's or prospective employee's account or profile on a social networking Web site"to"in order to gain access to the employee's or prospective employee's personal online accounts" (except for actual criminal investigations),and define "personal" as anything not obviously work-related (or whatever legalese is required to draw the correct line here), and I'm on board.

Kevin Griser
Kevin Griser

I to, Would not work for or give out personnel information to employers. They could in turn hack your acct and spread numerous viruses with out your knowledge. I applaud any Rep, senator or congressman/woman for making a stand for privacy Laws.

Joe
Joe

I wasn't aware that this is not covered under existing privacy law.

This one's clearly a no-brainer.  Look who came up with it.

Research
Research

Can't you just say you closed your account. Or actually close your account while looking for a job.  It's a good idea anyway. Obviously with FB, you log in and it's reactivated but that is putting all that info back out there and seems very illegal to force me to put info out there so you can look at my facebook profile.

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