A proposed Facebook user protection amendment that was introduced yesterday did not take long for the US House of Representative to work on. The legislation, offered by Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter, would have added new restrictions to FCC rules that would have prohibited employers from demanding workers’ social networking usernames and passwords. The final vote was 236 to 184, with only one House Republican voting in support of the changes. While the amendment not getting passed doesn’t exactly amount to a setback, the battle to protect workers’ online privacy from nosy employers is far from over.
When introducing the proposed amendment, Perlmutter explained the problem like so:
“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.”