In the wake of the last round of publicity surrounding employers asking job applicants for Facebook passwords, the US Senate is now getting involved. We have seen various State bills introduced in the past few months, a Federal bill would likely preempt any State effort. Is this a good idea or bad idea? In my opinion, its a waste of time. Facebook has already come out harshly against the practice and so have many in the background screening industry. In the end its a terrible hiring practice, bad for candidates, bad for the candidate experience and bad PR for any company that attempts it. Why is it a waste of time? I don’t really think many companies are doing it. We have seen story after story but can’t really find much evidence that companies are actually doing it! So it really begs the question, would we support actions forbidding it, YES, of course. However, I think the US Senate has way more important things to concentrate on right now!
Senate introduces Password Protection Act of 2012
Concerned with what they believe is “the growing practice of employers requiring prospective or current employees to provide access to password-protected accounts as a condition for employment,” Senators Richard Blumenthal, D-CT; Chuck Schumer, D-NY; Ron Wyden, D-OR; Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH; and Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, introduced the Password Protection Act of 2012 (PPA).
A press release from Sen. Blumenthal stresses that the PPA, which would amend the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, prohibits an employer from “forcing prospective or current employees to provide access to their own private account as a condition of employment and … from discriminating or retaliating against a prospective or current employee because that employee refuses to provide access to a password-protected account.”
The PPA will not interfere with an employer’s domain to set policies for employer-operated computer systems or hold employees accountable for stealing data from their employers. However, the PPA does not allow employers to access private employee data under any circumstances, even if the employer uses its own computers to access that data.