Spotlight for Career Services
Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
May 23, 2012
Legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House and Senate would bar employers from obtaining social media passwords from employees or job candidates.
Dubbed the Password Protection Act of 2012, the bill would help employees and potential employees maintain the privacy of their social media profiles during the job search or their employment. The legislation comes in response to increased attention on employers asking job candidates or employees for their social media passwords so the employer can access their candidates’ or employees’ online accounts.
The Password Protection Act bolsters current law to prohibit employers from compelling or coercing employees into providing access to their private accounts by:
- Prohibiting an employer from forcing prospective or current employees to provide access to their own private account as a condition of employment.
- Prohibiting employers from discriminating or retaliating against a prospective or current employee because that employee refuses to provide access to a password-protected account.
However, the act only prohibits adverse employment-related actions as a consequence of an employee’s failure to provide access to their own private accounts. It preserves the rights of employers to:
- Permit social networking within the office on a voluntary basis.
- Set policies for employer-operated computer systems.
- Hold employees accountable for stealing data from their employers.
For more information about the Password Protection Act of 2012, see www.blumenthal.senate.gov/ppa.
In April, NACE released a position statement about the issue of employers asking job candidates for their social media passwords during interviews to access candidates’ accounts and view their profiles. In the statement, NACE says that the practice violates ethical standards. For more on NACE’s stance on this issue, see “Requiring Logins/Passwords Violates NACE Principles” at www.naceweb.org/s04112012/interview-passwords-social-media/.