Seeking to protect worker privacy, a Central Coast congresswoman has joined other members of the House of Representatives to introduce the Password Protection Act of 2012.
Rep. Lois Capps, D-San Luis Obispo, said the bill is designed "to curb the growing practice of employers requiring prospective or current employees to provide access to password-protected accounts as a condition for employment."
"No American," Capps said, "should have to provide their passwords to personal social network or internet accounts as a condition of employment."
She called those requests "an unreasonable and unacceptable invasion of privacy."
Capps alluded to recent news reports that have highlighted "a disturbing increase in the number of employers asking prospective employees to hand over usernames and passwords to their personal accounts on websites like Facebook."
"Some job applicants," she went on, "are even being asked during interviews to log into these websites and allow interviewers to browse the applicant's profile, acquaintances and other information. Others are being asked to provide passwords on job applications."
The bill was drafted in consultation with major technology companies and legal experts.
Specifically, the bill would:
--Prohibit an employer from forcing a prospective or current employee to provide access to their private accounts as a condition of employment.
--Prohibit an employer from discriminating or retaliating against a prospective or current employee because that employee refuses to provide access to a password-protected account.
The Password Protection Act would preserve an employer's right to set policies for employer-operated computer systems and hold employees accountable for stealing data.
Employers that violate the act may face financial penalties.
Capps and Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., introduced the legislation. They were joined by 15 colleagues in the House.
Several U.S. senators introduced companion legislation.
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