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Public Statements

Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. PERLMUTTER. Mr. Speaker, what I'd like to do is to read again this amendment, because once I've read it, I imagine that everyone in this House of Representatives will embrace this amendment, this final amendment to the bill, and will vote in favor of this amendment. It says:

Nothing in this act or any amendment made by this act shall be construed to limit or restrict the ability of the Federal Communications Commission to adopt a rule or to amend an existing rule to protect online privacy, including requirements in such rule that prohibit licensees or regulated entities from mandating that job applicants or employees disclose confidential passwords to social networking Web sites.

What this amendment does is it says you cannot demand, as a condition of employment, that somebody reveal a confidential password to their Facebook, to their Flickr, to their Twitter, to whatever their account may be. It only makes sense because those that are using these kinds of social media have an expectation of privacy. They have an expectation that their right to free speech or their right to free religion will be respected when they use these social media outlets.

Now, if an employer wants to pose as or impersonate the individual who's had to turn over their confidential password, that employer I think will be able to reach into personal private information of the user, of the Facebook user, for instance, or the Facebook member, or of the person who is communicating with them, the friend of the Facebook user. So there are two sides to this, both the user of the Facebook as well as those people who correspond with them, that have an expectation of privacy.

Now, these kinds of communications are going to be very personal. Facebook, itself, in an original post dated March 23, 2012, says:

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.

They continue:

The most alarming of these practices is the reported incidences 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.

This is a very simple, straightforward amendment. It is one that everybody ought to embrace.

Now, some people might say, well, shouldn't an employer have this right? Well, employers can always do what they've done for years, which is to check references, to do background checks, but to do it as themselves, not as an imposter. They can do it directly. So if my reference is being checked, somebody knows that they're dealing with my employer, not some imposter. It is just that simple. People have an expectation of privacy, both the user and their friend.

There is clearly the potential for liability to an employer or somebody who comes in and misuses the confidential password. There is already plenty available to employers to do their background checks that they may need without posing and using the confidential password.

This amendment is simple. It is straightforward. I urge its passage. It is the final amendment that we will present to this bill.

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