‘SNOPA’ would ban employers, schools from demanding Facebook passwords

29 04 2012
By Bob Sullivan

A New York Congressman has introduced federal legislation nicknamed “SNOPA” that would make it illegal for employers and educational institutions to require a potential or current employee, or a potential or current student, to divulge personal online information as part of the hiring, enrollment or discipline process.

The bill, with a full name of the Social Networking Online Protection Act, was introduced Friday by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

“As you know, social media and networking has become such a widespread part of communications in our country, and around the globe. However, a person’s digital footprint is largely unprotected,” Engel said in a letter to Congressional colleagues asking that they support the proposal, which was obtained by msnbc.com from Engel’s office.

“There have been countless examples of employers requiring an applicant to divulge their user name and password as part of the hiring process. Additionally, some universities, and even secondary schools, have required the student either divulge their personal information, or grant the institution access to the personal account by ‘friending’ the student.”

The legislation would ban employers from requiring that employees or job candidates share social networking passwords or “other means of accessing a private account”; it would also ban post-secondary schools from disciplining students for failing to provide such access, or from discriminating against applicants who refuse to provide such access. Local educational agencies would also be banned from requiring login credentials.

“These coercive practices are unacceptable, and should be halted,” Engel said in the letter. “We have to draw a line between what is publicly available information, and what is personal, private content. I think we would all object to having to turn over usernames and passwords for email accounts, or even worse, to bank accounts. User-generated social media content should be no different.”

The Facebook password issue has been bubbling up for years — in 2009, a Maryland state employee complained that he was required to provide his Facebook password during a job interview. But the subject has gained much more attention in recent weeks, after several news reports, including an msnbc.com investigation.

(Full Story)





One response

29 04 2012

Reblogged this on Amanda Smith and commented:
The only content that should be available to educational institutions and potential employers is the information that people chose to make public. Privacy in the digital age is a fascinating issue. I see more and more that the younger generation doesn’t value privacy. We are so used to being able to access endless free information and content online. This has been useful for companies and organizations by improving transparency and crisis management, but it is harming individuals who are being asked to grant employers access to their personal lives.
I am interested to see if this SNOPA law goes anywhere.

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