For the second year in a row, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) introduced a provision to prevent employers from requiring current and prospective employees to hand over their personal passwords as a condition of either keeping or getting a new job. The amendment was introduced as a part of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act that would provide liability protection to U.S. companies for sharing cybersecurity information with the federal government.
Perlmutter said, "People have an expectation of privacy when using social media like Facebook and Twitter. They have an expectation that their right to free speech and religion will be respected when they use social media outlets. No American should have to provide their confidential personal passwords as a condition of employment. Both users of social media and those who correspond share the expectation of privacy in their personal communications. Employers essentially can act as imposters and assume the identity of an employee and continually access, monitor and even manipulate an employee's personal social activities and opinions. That's simply a step too far. "
Perlmutter continued, "It's not déjà vu -- this is the same amendment I introduced twice last year, so people have had plenty of time to study and discuss it. It has bipartisan support. It wouldn't kill the underlying cyber-security bill; it wouldn't send it back to committee. It merely safeguards an individuals' personal privacy as they use their own personal social media accounts."
Unfortunately, nearly all House Republicans voted along party lines against the amendment (final vote 189-224), which was included as part of HR 624 -- Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. If passed, the amendment would not change the overall impact or intent of the Act. Perlmutter voted with a bipartisan majority to pass HR 624.