Yee Introduces Social Media Privacy Act

Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) introduced legislation this week to stop employers from formally requesting or demanding employees or job applicants provide their social media usernames and passwords. He is also expanding the bill, SB 1349, to prohibit the practice at public and private colleges and universities as well. The bill comes after a growing number of businesses, public agencies, and colleges around the country have begun asking job seekers, workers, and students for their Facebook and Twitter account information. “It is completely unacceptable for an employer or university to invade someone’s personal social media accounts,” said Yee. “Not only is it entirely unnecessary, it is an invasion of privacy and unrelated to one’s performance or abilities.” “These outlets are often for the purpose of individuals to share private information with their closest friends and family,” said Yee. “Family photos and non-work social calendars have no bearing on a person’s ability to do their job or be successful in the classroom, and therefore employers and colleges have no right to demand to review it.” Rather than formally requesting passwords and usernames, some employers have demanded applicants and employees to sit down with managers to review their social media content or fully print out their social media pages. The bill will also prohibit this practice. IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law professor Lori Andrews, who specializes in Internet privacy, told the Associated Press that these practices even when given voluntarily should not be allowed. “Volunteering is coercion if you need a job,” Andrews said. Last week, Johnny Veloz, an unemployed photographer, told KCRA Sacramento that he was asked for his Facebook password during a recent job interview. Veloz was denied the job after refusing to provide the information. “For me, that’s rude and it’s not respectful,” Veloz said. “Someone has privacy, and you expect them to respect that.”
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