One Little Victory – for Online Privacy

Recently there have many claims by job seekers that they have been asked to provide their personal login credentials for their Facebook accounts. After much public outcry from potential employees and several complaints that were filed, it initially seemed that Facebook was threatening legal action to protect its 845 million users by either getting politicians to pass a law stopping this practice, or by suing employers outright who are shown to have asked persons to divulge their information.

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Facebook then decided not to pursue this course of action. Following this disappointing decision by Facebook, House Republicans also voted down a bill that would have prevented employers from doing asking for login credentials.

While some Maryland took steps to protect individuals from being asked for private, sensitive information, the ACLU seemed to be the only group willing to deem these practices as a blatant invasion of privacy. They even went so far as to produce a video called "Want a Job? Password, please!"

According to, it seems now that a bill titled: "The Social Networking Online Protection Act" introduced by Democratic Reps. Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) would prohibit current or potential employers from demanding a username or password to a social networking account.

They bill was summarized with the following statment:

"We must draw the line somewhere and define what is private," Engel said in a statement. "No one would feel comfortable going to a public place and giving out their username and passwords to total strangers. They should not be required to do so at work, at school, or while trying to obtain work or an education. This is a matter of personal privacy and makes sense in our digital world."

Ars adds, "The bill would apply the same prohibitions to colleges, universities, and K-12 schools. … Facebook has already threatened legal action against organizations who require employees to reveal their Facebook passwords as policy."

It would appear that many states are getting on board with the new laws to protect their citizens. Many feel that the bill will be successfully passed this time as it is a bill of its own and not an amendment to an existing bill that would have attempted to reform FCC procedures. Certainly we have not heard the end of this and if this bill fails, then a large public outcry will surely be inevitable. But if it passes it will certainly be more than One Little Victory!

(On a side note I have been looking for a way to incorporate a tune from Rush into my blog post for sometime…but I also get to mix Queen meme with Rush 🙂

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