US Senators Richard Blumenthal and Charles Schumer have called for an investigation into employers asking job applicants for Facebook user names and passwords.
The pair is calling on the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to look into the 'disturbing trend' and see if it is illegal. Reports in both the US and UK suggest that employers are demanding the details from applicants to gain information about them.
"I am alarmed and outraged by rapidly and widely spreading employer practices seeking access to Facebook passwords or confidential information on other social networks," said Blumenthal.
"A ban on these practices is necessary to stop unreasonable and unacceptable invasions of privacy. An investigation by the Department of Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will help remedy ongoing intrusions and coercive practices, while we draft new statutory protections to clarify and strengthen the law. With few exceptions, employers do not have the need or the right to demand access to applicants’ private, password-protected information."
"Before this disturbing practice becomes widespread, we must have an immediate investigation into whether the practice violates federal law – I’m confident the investigation will show it does. said Schumer.
Facebook agrees and has made it a violation to share or solicit a Facebook password under its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
Facebook said in a statement: "In recent months, we’ve seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles or private information. This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability."
"As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job. While we will continue to do our part, it is important that everyone on Facebook understands they have a right to keep their password to themselves, and we will do our best to protect that right."