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Sponsoring Bill to Ban Employer's Ability to Demand Access to Social Media Accounts


Location: Washington, DC

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has cosponsored a bill that was introduced this week that would prohibit companies, colleges and universities from requiring that employees, applicants or students turn over user names and passwords for social media accounts.

"Just because you're applying for a job with a company doesn't mean that an employer should be able to sift through your Facebook account," Pingree said. "Demanding user names and passwords is like asking for the keys to your house so an employer can snoop around in your private life."

Increasingly, businesses are asking current or potential employees to turn over login information for social media accounts as a condition of employment. The practice has even spread to some colleges and universities. For example, Villanova University has required their student athletes to "friend" a company called Varsity Monitor so the student's online activities can be monitored.

The bill Pingree cosponsored, the Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA), would prohibit companies, colleges and universities from requiring a user name, password, or any other means of accessing a private account as a condition of employment or enrollment. It also prohibits these institutions from discriminating against individuals who refuse to turn over passwords.

"Services like Facebook have privacy settings for a reason," Pingree said. "If there is a post or photo you don't want to share with the whole world you can choose to keep it private and there is no reason why your employer should be able to poke around in your private life."

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