"Ummm, my user name is my first name, and my password is, ummm....'liketoparty.'"
It's embarrassing and intrusive moments like this - perhaps in a job interview, perhaps with a current employer - that local Senator Leland Yee has decided to address with proposed legislation.
On a 28-5 vote, the California Senate Friday approved legislation, authored by Yee, that prevents employers from formally requesting or demanding social media usernames and passwords from employees or job applicants.
According to his office, Yee’s bill also prohibits public and private colleges and universities from requiring such information of students.
Yee feels the time is correct for the bill. He says a "growing number of businesses, public agencies, and colleges around the country are asking job seekers, workers, and students for their Facebook and Twitter account information."
“I am pleased by today’s overwhelming vote to end this unacceptable invasion of personal privacy,” said Yee in a release. “The practice of employers or colleges demanding social media passwords is entirely unnecessary and completely unrelated to someone’s performance or abilities.”
Yee also feels that in addition to the privacy of students and workers, accessing social media accounts may invade the privacy of family members and friends who thought they only were sharing information with their own social media network.
“These social media outlets are often for the purpose of individuals to share private information – including age, marital status, religion, sexual orientation and personal photos – with their closest friends and family,” said Yee. “This information is illegal for employers and colleges to use in making employment and admission decisions and has absolutely no bearing on a person’s ability to do their job or be successful in the classroom.”
Yee's website quotes Shannon Minter, Legal Director for National Center for Lesbian Rights, as saying that the practice of requesting social media passwords is the equivalent to reading a personal diary, and that LGBT employees, job applicants, and students already face significant obstacles when applying for schools and jobs.
Minter said that Yee's bill helps ensures individuals are “judged by their qualifications and performance, rather than elements of their private life.”
Before becoming law, SB 1349 will be considered by the State Assembly. If passed, it will be sent to the Governor for his approval.
What do you think? Is it appropriate for employers to request specific social media account information from current and potential employees? Does viewing a person's Facebook or Twitter account show a true reflection of the kind of employee that person may be? Or is this a violation of personal rights, and not related to future job performance?
Let us know in your comments, and vote in our poll below.