Social Networking: Does Your Boss Know?

On 1 January, statutes went into effect in California and Illinois that make it illegal for employers to demand that employees or job seekers reveal their social-media passwords as a condition of employment. Four other states already bar the practice; Delaware was the first, back in July, followed by Maryland, Michigan, and New Jersey.

The six legislatures took action after Facebook went public last March with news that workers were being ambushed at job interviews or threatened by supervisors. So the underlying reality is that in 44 states employers can still strong-arm workers with the ever more frequent demand: Show us the private parts of your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts or you can’t work here.

Organizations committed to preserving individual privacy had been pinning their hopes for a nationwide fix on a bill submitted to Congress last year that would restrict employers’ ability to force workers to make a choice between dignity a paycheck. According to the U.S. federal government website, the Password Protection Act of 2012 (H.R. 5684), which was introduced on 9 May, was sent to the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee that same day. The bill apparently was then whisked into a witness protection program, because it hasn’t reappeared, and if its provisions ever show up again, it’ll be under a different name.

Good or bad?  Well, the 21st Century is begging for the laws of yesteryear to catch up.  Is Privacy and the 4th Amendment alive and well?  Does the aforementioned trespass upon the 14th Amendment?  The jury, literally, is still out!

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