Senators Ask Feds to Investigate Employer Requests for Facebook Passwords
SEATTLE (AP) – Two U.S. senators are asking Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether employers asking for Facebook passwords during job interviews are violating federal law, their offices announced Sunday.
Troubled by reports of the practice, Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said they are calling on the Department of Justice and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to launch investigations. The senators are sending letters to the heads of the agencies.
The Associated Press reported last week that some private and public agencies around the country are asking job seekers for their social media credentials. The practice has alarmed privacy advocates, but the legality of it remains murky.
On Friday, Facebook warned employers not to ask job applicants for their passwords to the site so they can poke around on their profiles. The company threatened legal action against applications that violate its long-standing policy against sharing passwords.
A Facebook executive cautioned that if an employer discovers that a job applicant is a member of a protected group, the employer may be vulnerable to claims of discrimination if it doesn’t hire that person.
Personal information such as gender, race, religion and age are often displayed on a Facebook profile — all details that are protected by federal employment law.
“We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s the right thing to do. While we do not have any immediate plans to take legal action against any specific employers, we look forward to engaging with policy makers and other stakeholders, to help better safeguard the privacy of our users,” Facebook said in a statement.