Maryland Likely to Ban Employers From Seeking Facebook Passwords
Maryland would be the first in the nation with such legislation.
Maryland might become the first state to ban employers from asking employees and applicants for their Facebook passwords and other private social media information, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The Sun is reporting that a bill protecting the privacy of workers and applicants from employers asking for electronic passwords has passed both the House and Senate and is awaiting signature from Gov. Martin O’Malley.
The ACLU of Maryland is among the groups that pushed for the state law barring employers from asking for Facebook passwords or to access private accounts.
This year, the group highlighted an incident that occurred last year when former correctional officer Robert Collins said he was asked to give his Facebook password to his superior at the Maryland Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services.
Collins told CBS Baltimore he asked corrections officials what they were looking for and was told, “I’m looking through your messages, through your wall, through your pictures and through your posts to make sure that you’re not flashing any gang signs or involved in any illegal activity.”
In April of 2011, the Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services made the review of social media sites during the interview process for correctional officer applicants voluntary, according to a press release.
They will also not be asked to supply log-in or password information, the press release said.
Maryland corrections officials said questions about social media activity are designed to eliminate candidates who engage in illegal activity or have gang affiliations.
“The department is doing its due diligence to check any avenue to look for signs that someone might be having association with a gang--and it is a problem inside prisons,” Rick Binetti, a Maryland corrections spokesman, told Patch last month. “The majority of violence in prison is driven through gangs and trading and contraband, and it’s not unique to Maryland.”
The ACLU has said in an email to supporters that the Maryland Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services policy change to make the social media review voluntary does not go far enough, and said efforts to access private accounts is a "gross infringement of privacy."
Nationally, two Democratic senators, New York’s Chuck Schumer and Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal, are calling for investigations into whether employers are violating federal law when they ask for Facebook passwords during job interviews, according to the Huffington Post.
Other states that have considered legislation on the issue include Illinois, California and Massachusetts, which has a bill under consideration that forbids employers from “friending” job applicants in order to see private Facebook sites as well, the Huffington Post reported.