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Facebook: Employers Can’t Ask For Passwords

Submitted by on March 25, 2012 – 10:09 amNo Comment

For months, reports of employers forcing employees to fork over their Facebook passwords or lose their jobs have inflamed concerns about online privacy. While it’s difficult to confirm these or come up with reliable statistics, several states have introduced legislation to outlaw the practice. Finally, on Friday, Facebook itself waded into the fray, issuing a statement strongly condemning the practice and even threatening legal action.

The notice came from Erin Egan, the social network’s Chief Privacy Officer:

In recent months, we’ve seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles or private information. This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.
The most alarming of these practices is the reported incidents of employers asking prospective or actual employees to reveal their passwords.  If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends.  We have worked really hard at Facebook to give you the tools to control who sees your information.
While Egan warned employers about potential charges of discrimination, she also noted Facebook itself would consider taking legal action “to protect the privacy and security” of their users.
The AP also reported this week that Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are asking Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department to investigate whether requesting employees’ social media passwords violates federal law; and that states including Illinois, Maryland, and California have introduced legislation addressing the issue.
What do you think? Has an employer ever forced you to hand over your Facebook password?
[Source: CNET]
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