US senators seek employer Facebook snooping probe

US senators seek employer Facebook snooping probe

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
US senators seek employer Facebook snooping probe

This Oct. 15, 2011 file photo shows Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. AP photo

Two US senators are calling for an investigation into employers demanding access to workers' Facebook accounts, and urged a ban on such "unreasonable and unacceptable invasions of privacy." "I am alarmed and outraged by rapidly and widely spreading employer practices seeking access to Facebook passwords or confidential information on other social networks," Senator Richard Blumenthal said in a statement Sunday.

"A ban on these practices is necessary to stop unreasonable and unacceptable invasions of privacy," he said, and called on the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to end the "coercive practices" while new legal protections are drawn up.

Blumenthal was joined by fellow Democrat Charles Schumer, who said: "Employers have no right to ask job applicants for their house keys or to read their diaries -- why should they be able to ask them for their Facebook passwords and gain unwarranted access to a trove of private information about what we like, what messages we send to people, or who we are friends with?" Facebook on Friday blasted employers who want to peer at what workers and potential new hires have posted on their personal accounts at the world's leading social network, and urged the online community not to share passwords with current or potential employers.
The issue swelled into a furor after increased reports of incidents in which employers and college admission offices have sought to gain access to people's profiles on Facebook and other social media sites.
Schumer argued that being forced to surrender such personal information marked an unreasonable invasion of privacy, especially in the digital age, and called for a probe to see whether the practice violates federal law.

"I'm confident the investigation will show it does," he said.
"In an age where more and more of our personal information -- and our private social interactions -- are online, it is vital that all individuals be allowed to determine for themselves what personal information they want to make public and protect personal information from their would-be employers," he said.