As you probably know, on Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, better known as CISPA. The bill, which aims to help the government react to cybersecurity threats by making it easier to share information between itself and private companies, saw bipartisan support. Opponents of CISPA have argued that the bill is a a massive invasion of privacy, and will be used to justify wholesale spying on the American public by making companies who give up private user info immune from suits or prosecution.
Although CISPA as a whole saw bipartisan support, one last-minute amendement that looked to curtail a worrisome practice by employers was shot down on party lines.
Colorado Democrat Ed Perlmutter attempted to tack on a provision to CISPA that would make it illegal for employers to require prospective employees to hand over their social media passwords as a condition of acquiring or keeping a job.
The proposal was voted down 224-189, with Republicans in the majority.
“People have an expectation of privacy when using social media like Facebook and Twitter. They have an expectation that their right to free speech and religion will be respected when they use social media outlets. No American should have to provide their confidential personal passwords as a condition of employment. Both users of social media and those who correspond share the expectation of privacy in their personal communications. Employers essentially can act as imposters and assume the identity of an employee and continually access, monitor and even manipulate an employee’s personal social activities and opinions. That’s simply a step too far,” said Perlmutter.
Thankfully this kind of ban has had success at the state level, particularly California and Illinois.