As of the first of the year, it is officially illegal to request a Facebook password when interviewing prospective employees in California. A pair of bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September took effect on Tuesday.
Brown signed the Assembly Bill 1844 and Senate Bill 1349, which “prohibit universities and employers from demanding your email and social media passwords,” as Brown said on his Facebook page. Earlier in 2012, people began calling out interviewers and institutions for asking for Facebook passwords as part of the review process. The process of screening a prospective student’s or employee’s social media accounts to decide whether or not they’d be a good addition to the institution is not a new one. But at least with this process, people felt as if their private information was still sacred.
When employers and universities request passwords, however, people undoubtedly feel as if saying no is a red flag and hand over the credentials.
As Wired notes, six states total have adopted similar legislation, as there isn’t federal regulation banning the password-requesting process yet. The states that join California include Illinois, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, and New Jersey.
At the time, Facebook quickly responded saying that it did not approve of employers asking for social-media passwords and noted that people agree in the terms of service not to give out that information.
“As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job. And as the friend of a user, you shouldn’t have to worry that your private information or communications will be revealed to someone you don’t know and didn’t intend to share with just because that user is looking for a job,” said Facebook chief privacy officer, policy Erin Egan in a blog post. “That’s why we’ve made it a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password.”