Employers would be forbidden from asking potential employees and job applicants for password information to their Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts under a bill introduced Tuesday in the House.
House Bill 308, also known as the Workplace Privacy Act, specifically addresses employers and makes it unlawful for them to mandate that an employee or applicant disclose password or account information that would grant the employer access to the employee's or applicant's social networking profile or account. The bill also prohibits employers from requesting that employees or applicants log onto their respective social networking site profiles or account to provide the employer direct access.
"There are stories of interviewers turning to their computer and checking out a person's profile right there during the interview. That is not only an invasion of privacy, but during a time when jobs are scarce and people are looking for work, this is tantamount to an ultimatum - give us your password or you won't get this job," said the bill's sponsor Rep. Darryl Scott, D-Dover, in a statement. "More than a third of adult internet users have at least one social networking site, so this is not a small group of people potentially affected."
With social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter implementing privacy settings so users can control who can see their profile, Rep. Scott said employers should not be permitted to request password information from a potential employer in order to view their profile.
"People should have a reasonable expectation that information they have placed behind a password should not be forcibly coerced as part of a job application process," he said.
A separate bill also introduced Tuesday by Rep. Scott, House Bill 309, also known as the Higher Education Privacy Act, would apply similar measures to both public and non-public academic institutions, and makes it unlawful for such an institution to require that a student or job applicant provide their social networking password or log in to provide the institution with access.
HB 309 carries an exemption for investigations of suspected criminal activity or investigations into threats.
A bill similar to HB 308 passed in Maryland last month. At least nine other states are considering similar legislation.
HB 308 and 309 have been assigned to the House Telecommunications, Internet & Technology Committee.