U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced Tuesday that she will be cosponsoring federal legislation that would prohibit employers from requiring that a current or potential employee to turn over their password to Facebook or any other private online account.
Recently, there have been several instances across the nation where employers have demanded access to job abblicants' Facebook passwords as a requirement in the hiring process. The Password Protection Act would make that kind of coersion illegal, and would also bar employers from accessing e-mails or other online storage.
"This is about the right to privacy," Klobuchar while while speaking at FirstTech in Uptown Minneapolis. "No person should be forced to reveal their private online communications just to get a job."
Though any user who signs up with Facebook must agree with the terms of service -- which expressly states that a user will neither share his or her password nor allow someone else access to the account, Klobuchar says the bill will help the nation's laws keep up with a modern world.
"This is another example of making sure our laws keep up with advances in technology and that fundamental values -- like the right to privacy -- are protected," she said.
When she made the announcement at the nation's first Apple computer franchise, Klouchar said hiring practices requiring prospective employees to give up their online passwords is "akin to demanding the keys to a person's home."
"You can go in and search around for anything that you want," she explained. "One of the scariest things about it is that it violates not only the user's privacy, but it also invades the privacy of the user's friends."
Clay Halunen, a Twin Cities labor attorney who focuses on employment law, also spoke about the bill as a necessary safeguard for jobseekers.
"We are talking here today about a bill that will protect employees from being forced to turn over very priavate information -- the keys to their most private thoughts and feelings in and communications in order to keep their job or in order to get a job," he said.
Harvey Zuckman, owner of FirstTech, and Patrick DuSchane, a president of the student body at Augsburg College, also joined Klobuchar at the podium Tuesday.
Klobuchar is teaming up with Sens. Chuck Schumer, of New York, and Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut.
Klobuchar serves on both the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over telecommunications issues, and the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has authority over privacy issues.