Two U.S. senators are asking the Attorney General to investigate claims that employers are asking workers to submit personal Facebook login information as part of the job.
We first heard about this strange new trend last week. Apparently, there are some human resources professionals who ask applicants to hand over Facebook login credentials, including their user names, passwords, and security questions. Others have simply asked workers to log into their Facebook accounts on a company computer to comb through their accounts later, or have asked their workers to add them as a friend on the social network to gain access to their profiles. Many people don’t want to push back against the requests for fear of being fired, or not getting a job they’re seeking.
Facebook on Friday renounced the practices and told employers to knock it off. And now it seems that federal regulators are getting into the mix.
Both senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) want to know whether the act of asking (forcing?) employees to submit their social media credentials is a violation of the Stored Communications Act, which gives privacy protection to online communications. The senators are also asking the Attorney General to investigate whether the practice also violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which prevents unintentional access to information on a computer without approved authorization.
Since Facebook deems the practice of employers obtaining their workers’ login credentials as a violation of its terms of service, it’s very possible that it is violating at least one of the acts.
“In an age where more and more of our personal information — and our private social interactions — are online, it is vital that all individuals be allowed to determine for themselves what personal information they want to make public and protect personal information from their would-be employers,” Schumer said in a statement to the Associated Press. “This is especially important during the job-seeking process, when all the power is on one side of the fence.”