As businesses, public agencies and colleges continue to request social media account user names and passwords from students and job seekers, two Bay Area lawmakers are pushing bills to stop the practice.
Yesterday, the Assembly Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 1349, authored by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, that prohibits public and private colleges and universities in the state from requesting the information.
Today, the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee will consider Assembly Bill 1844, authored by Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose.
The Campos bill specifically prohibits businesses from requesting social media user names and passwords.
Lawmakers are crafting similar bills in states across the country.
In late March, however, a proposed Facebook user protection amendment was shot down by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The amendment to the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2012 would have allowed the FCC to stop any employers from seeking the confidential information.
Facebook officials would not comment on the two new California bills yesterday but pointed to a statement made by Erin Egan, the company’s chief privacy officer, back in March after the House voted against the Facebook user protection amendment.
"This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability,” Egan wrote in a statement.
The most alarming practice is the reported incidents of employers asking prospective or actual employees to reveal their passwords, Egan wrote.
Facebook users should never have to share their password or let anyone access their accounts, she wrote.
The increase in reports of employers asking for inappropriate access to accounts is distressful to the company, she wrote.
In California, Yee and Campos are co-authoring each other’s bills.
"These social media outlets are often for the purpose of individuals to share private information — including age, marital status, religion, sexual orientation and personal photos — with their closest friends and family,” Yee wrote in a statement. "This information is illegal for employers and colleges to use in making employment and admission decisions and has absolutely no bearing on a person’s ability to do their job or be successful in the classroom.”
The two California bills would also prohibit employers and colleges from demanding personal email addresses and login information of employees, applicants and students.
SB 1349 will be considered by the Assembly Higher Education Committee next week.
Bill Silverfarb can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.