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- Welch announces bill to protect employee privacy on social media sites
On Feb. 21, Rep. Peter Welch announced legislation to curb the
growing practice of employers requiring prospective or current
employees, as a condition of employment, to provide access to
password-protected social media accounts like Facebook and
Welch's Password Protection Act would prohibit compelling or
coercing employees to provide access to data stored in private
"Employees have a legitimate expectation of privacy when using
Facebook or Twitter. This legislation will prevent fishing
expeditions into employees' private lives," Welch said. "While
an employer may have a valid concern about the business impact of
an employee's online activity, demanding passwords and unfettered
access to private accounts is an over-the-top solution."
Recent news reports have highlighted a disturbing increase in
the number of employers asking prospective employees to reveal
usernames and passwords to social media accounts like Facebook.
Some employers are demanding applicants, during job interviews, log
into their accounts and allow the interviewer to browse their
profile, acquaintances, and other information. Others are requiring
passwords on job applications.
Welch has been a leader in Congress on the need to update
privacy laws to keep pace with changing technologies. With mobile
telephones and other devices making it easier to use GPS technology
to track the location of individuals, Welch introduced bipartisan
legislation to set clear guidelines on when and how this
information can be accessed by law enforcement.