updated 11:55 am EDT, Fri March 23, 2012
Government may ban practice
Facebook may be preparing to file lawsuits against companies that demand personal account passwords from prospective employees. In a public statement authored by the social network's "chief privacy officer," Erin Egan, the company argues that such hiring practices potentially expose the employer to "unanticipated legal liability."
Many companies are known to view an applicant's public profile as part of the hiring screening process, however Facebook suggests employers are overstepping by asking applications to hand over their private account passwords.
"As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job," Egan writes. "And as the friend of a user, you shouldn’t have to worry that your private information or communications will be revealed to someone you don’t know and didn’t intend to share with just because that user is looking for a job."
An AP report suggests the government may enact legislation that will explicitly prohibit the practice. Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal is authoring a bill that would ban employers from asking for passwords to social media accounts, including Facebook, arguing that it represents an "unreasonable invasion of privacy."
"We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges," Egan adds.