Should We Outlaw Employers From Asking For Social Networking Logins?
from the this-is-not-a-good-trend dept
In 2009, we wrote about the city of Bozeman, Montana asking job applicants for all of their passwords to social networking sites, so that the city could look more closely to see if they had “high moral character.” Public outrage over that plan resulted in the city dropping the requirement. Last year, we noted that some places in Maryland were doing the same, leading to a lawsuit. However, the Boston Globe is now reporting that more and more jobseekers are being asked for their social network logins, as a simplified “background check” by employers. It’s a newspaper trend piece, so in typically maddening fashion it makes no effort to indicate how widespread this really is — but the fact that it’s not a big story any time an employer does this certainly suggests that it’s becoming at least somewhat more standard.
Still, does that mean we should pass a law? Senator Richard Blumenthal — who has long been in favor of laws against all kinds of internet companies — is apparently working on exactly that kind of legislation. Somehow, I doubt it’s an accident that the Boston Globe trend piece came out at about the same time as Blumenthal’s plans were discussed. Frankly, I still think that it’s pretty sketchy and questionable for companies to ask for logins, but is it so bad that we need a law? Is there at least some sort of data on how widespread this practice is?
In the meantime, for those interviewing for jobs who do get asked for such things, it seems only proper to respond as the first individual profiled in the original article does—by walking away:
Bassett, a New York City statistician, had just finished answering a few character questions when the interviewer turned to her computer to search for his Facebook page. But she couldn’t see his private profile. She turned back and asked him to hand over his login information.
Bassett refused and withdrew his application, saying he didn’t want to work for a company that would seek such personal information.
I would still guess this isn’t quite as common as the article tries to suggest, but either way I’m curious if people feel this practice is so egregious that it needs a new federal law?