Following the recent rash of companies opting to ask applicants for their social media passwords, and the critical backlash regarding privacy the practice generated, the federal House and Senate have introduced identical versions of The Password Protection Act of 2012 (PPA) to their respective floors. The act is an effort to stop employers from requiring personal information (mainly passwords for social media websites like Facebook and Twitter) from current and prospective employees in order to remain or become employed. The PPA goes even further by banning the access of such personal information from any computer not owned or controlled by the employee being investigated and extends to email accounts, mobile devices, and photo-sharing websites (e.g. Flickr).
Some of the highlights of the proposed social media legislation bill include:
- The prohibitions of employers from requiring current or prospective employees to provide private account access as a condition of employment.
- Outlawing the practice of discrimination or retaliation against an employee who refuses to offer access to password-protected information.
- The blocking of any negative actions against an employee as a consequence of refusing to grant an employer access to his or her private accounts.
Companies found in violation of the PPA would be subject to fines.
The bill is currently being considered in the U.S. Congress and was introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and a group of co-sponsors in the Senate and by Rep Ed Perlmutter (D, CO) and Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) in the House of Representatives.