updated 06:40 pm EDT, Wed March 28, 2012
House vote divides along party lines
The US Congress has rejected an amendment to a bill that would have barred employers from requiring their employees to provide them with the workers' usernames and passwords for their accounts on social networking sites such as Facebook. The bill was offered yesterday by Colorado Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter as an amendment to the FCC Process Reform Act of 2012. The proposed tack-on was defeated today by a vote of 236 to 184, mainly along party lines.
Increasingly, employers have begun demanding that employees provide them with their personal access information as a condition to new or continued employment. The practice has elicited concern from both the ACLU and Facebook itself. On Friday, Erin Egan, the company's "chief privacy office," warned that such practices went to far and intruded on individuals' rights to privacy. Egan went so far as to threaten possible legal action. "We'll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users," Egan stated, "whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges."
If the amendment had prevailed, it would have enabled the FCC to intervene and stop any employers from asking for the personal information from current or potential employees. Although the amendment is dead, interest in the matter still remains strong at the dfederal level. Some members of the US Senate have asked the US Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate the practice. [via TechCrunch]