A new bill introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives would make it illegal for employers and other institutions to require Social Media passwords from their employees.
The bill, the Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA), would protect current and prospective employees as well as individuals facing disciplinary action against schools, universities, and employers that would otherwise require them to provide user names, passwords, or other access to online content. It comes in the wake of media reports about job applicants being pressured to log into their social media accounts by prospective employers.
The bill was introduced by Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09). It would prohibit employers, schools and universities from demanding such access and from disciplining, discriminating against or denying employment to individuals for refusing to volunteer such information.
“We must draw the line somewhere and define what is private. No one would feel comfortable going to a public place and giving out their user name and passwords to total strangers,” said Engel in a statement on his website. “They should not be required to do so at work, at school, or while trying to obtain work or an education.”
After reports emerged that employers had been coercing job applicants to surf their social media profiles while recruiters watched, social networking giant Facebook responded by writing a new clause into its ‘statement of rights and responsibilities’ and warning that it would not hesitate to take legal or other action against employers that continued the practice.