You might have heard about the SNOPA (Social Networking Online Protection Act) Bill. It addresses the issue of employers asking (potential) employees for their passwords to social media, such as Facebook.
Once passed, any prospective employer could face a $10,000 civil penalty once access to social networking accounts is asked from a (potential) employee. Schools and universities would also be banned from demanding passwords as part of disciplinary or enrollment processes.
The Bill comes hot on the heels of a series of incidents in which job candidates have been told they have to hand over passwords as part of the interview process.
As Eliot Engel, one of the Democratic Congressman who introduced SNOPA put it: “there have been countless examples of employers requiring an applicant to divulge their user name and password as part of the hiring process.”
As well as demands for passwords, this Bill would also ban “other means of accessing a private account”. This would cover demands for “friend” status.
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) supports SNOPA. The company has threatened to sue employers who demand passwords. Facebook’s privacy chief Erin Egan stated that: “as a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job. We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action.”
Unfortunately, the number of cases in the United States and elsewhere has been rising over during the past few years. When faced with the demand for divulging login details to social media, the job applicant or employee has two options: (a) to comply, or (b) to resign or withdraw from a job application. Due to the current state of the economy, taking the moral high ground is often a luxury the job seeker cannot effort…..
European employees and job applicants are faced with the same predicament as their peers across The Pond. They are also asked for their Facebook passwords by (potential) employers. According to legal experts, employers are indeed allowed to at least asking the question.
But don’t despair – legislation is kicking in soon!