You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 9:55 a.m.

Senators request federal probe of Facebook password requests by employers

By Staff

Two U.S. senators want an investigation into whether employers violated federal law when they asked job applicants for their Facebook passwords, according to a report in USA Today.

Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut are asking the Department of Justice and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to launch investigations, according to the report.

The issue of employers seeking access to prospective employees' social media accounts is gaining prominence, as questions arise over potential legal issues - and whether employers should be doing this.

From a recent Associated Press report: "It's akin to requiring someone's house keys," said Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor who calls it "an egregious privacy violation."

Read the full story.



Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 10:38 p.m.

Wow I,m confused I figured the anti-union folks would support this type of behavior from companies.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

I think the USA Today article should have named the companies, rather than (claiming) someone somewhere did something.


Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

@Eep That's the picture I'm getting as well. I know of several departments (police/corrections) who ask for Facebook passwords during an interview.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

From what I've heard, almost all of the employers doing this are government agencies like police and corrections departments - mostly for new applicants and not for existing employees. These types of employers have legitimate interests in investigating the backgrounds of their potential future employees - beyond the interests that most other employers would have. However, this particular practice goes way too far, even for these types of employers. Its basically the same as requiring the future employee to consent to a search of their home, including reading old diaries and letters, etc.

Kara H

Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

It's actually a trending topic in news overall. USA Today should have added links to previous coverage. It still smacks a bit of being an urban legend to me because it's such an egregious practice in my mind, it doesn't actually seem possible. But here's an API article that's gotten pretty wide pick up, this line is to MSNBC but it appears elsewhere as well. Tempest in a teapot or real? I don't know. Crazy stuff if it is really happening though.

Monica R-W

Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

This is good. Employer have no right to examine social media accounts for their employees. Glad to read there will be a Federal Investigation about this!

Dog Guy

Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

It is generous of these two senators to give time to this matter in a busy election year.

Kara H

Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

I know it takes awhile for law to catch up with new technology, and sometimes it never really does, but I'm surprised a practice like this even needs new legislation to end it. Employers are already forbidden from asking many personal questions that could be prejudicial or discriminatory. Most applicants already know that their social media presences and posts are out there and can be found, but for a prospective employer to demand actual passwords and access is overly invasive. If it's not already illegal (which I believe it will be proven to be) it really needs to be. Fast.


Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

You need a warrant to "tap" a phone, cellular or land line. There are always exceptions in extreme/varying situations (patriot act for example). But AAPD can't just tune into your cell phone and use that information gathered against you.


Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

Kara H, It might be akin to the authorities monitoring telephone calls. If it's a land line, a court order is required for tapping. However, cell phones are not covered under the law, since the law predates the technology. It's sad that laws need to keep up with these things rather that assuming that in a free society, the technology does not matter.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

Glad to see that Facebook and the US Senate are taking strong measures to stop this practice. I hope they make it illegal to ask for any social media password in a hiring situation or for current employees of any company, public or private. Nothing surprises me about what some employers will do to avoid hiring someone, however, including trying to find out their marital status, parental status, age, health status, etc.