Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Facebook Password Amendment Doesn't Pass in the House

On Wednesday, March 28 the amendment that was written to ban employers from asking for their current and prospective employees' personal passwords was voted down by the House of Representatives.

This is an issue that has been popping up a lot recently. Employers have been asking employees and interviewees for their Facebook and email passwords as a condition to keep or get a new job. This is a violation of Facebook’s privacy policy and just seems inappropriate in general.

The amendment that was written concerning these issues says "that you cannot demand, as a condition of employment, that somebody reveal a confidential password to their Facebook, to their Flickr, to their Twitter, whatever their account may be," stated the author of the amendment, Democratic Colorado Representative Ed Perlmutter, during his floor speech on Wednesday.

The amendment had been added to a large FCC reform package; however, it was voted down Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 236 to 185. Parties stuck together for the most part, with 183 Democrats voting for the amendment and 234 Republicans voting against it.

On Wednesday Fred Wolens, Facebook’s public policy manager, made a public statement because "there were a lot of questions and implications that I'm not sure employers were considering when engaging in these practices."

One thing that Wolens mentioned was that when employers are accessing the accounts of their current and prospective employees, they aren’t just getting to see the employee's or interviewee's information, they are also getting access to the information of all of their friends.

"You're very fundamentally breaking the privacy of not just [your employee] but their friends," Wolens said.

There are also liability issues that Wolens talked about. A person’s Facebook profile could have information about things like a disability or a pregnancy. These are things that have the potential to lead to employee discrimination suits.

"We give users control [over their information], and when you give away your password, it fundamentally changes your relationship with Facebook," Wolens said. "Employers would not ask people for their email passwords or bank account statement, and I think the implications are very similar, if not the same, to peoples' Facebook passwords."

As of right now, this issue has obviously not been settled. According to TechCrunch, Republicans simply were not convinced that the amendment was truly necessary; however, they did make sure to say that they would in fact be open to discussing the issue if it was separate legislation.

Source: PCMag - House Votes Against Facebook Password Amendment

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