After headlines about job applicants required to provide Facebook passwords two Senators requested an investigation of violation of federal laws. US Senators Chuck Schumer (New York) and Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) issued a press release requesting that the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Justice:
...launch a federal investigation into a new disturbing trend of employers demanding job applicants turn over their user names and passwords for social networking and email websites to gain access to personal information like private photos, email messages, and biographical data that is otherwise deemed private.
The Senators specifically asked the Attorney General to determine if job interviewers’ requests for the Facebook passwords of interviewees violates the Stored Communication Act or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s the right thing to do. But it also may cause problems for the employers that they are not anticipating. For example, if an employer sees on Facebook that someone is a member of a protected group (e.g. over a certain age, etc.) that employer may open themselves up to claims of discrimination if they don’t hire that person.
Clearly we will see more about disclosure of Social Media passwords. What do you think?