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Mary Franson introduces bill blocking employers from asking for social media passwords

Franson is the unlikely impetus behind a piece of common-sense legislation.
Franson is the unlikely impetus behind a piece of common-sense legislation.

Mary Franson has caused us to shake our heads a couple times already this month -- first when she compared food stamp recipients to wild animals, then again when she outed herself as a careless driver to "scoop" the Strib's Jon Tevlin.

But today, instead of shaking our heads at her, we're nodding along with her.

According to Minnesota politics blog Bluestem Prairie, Rep. Franson, R-Alexandria, has introduced a bill prohibiting employers from asking employees for social media passwords as a condition of employment. All of the bill's other House co-authors are Democrats.

Franson's bill is a response to a slew of media reports detailing how employers are more and more often asking prospective employees for their Facebook and Twitter passwords as conditions of employment.

From CNN:

Employers are increasingly curious about your social media social life.
Employers are increasingly curious about your social media social life.
Robert Collins of the Baltimore area has said that he was looking to be reinstated to his job as a correctional officer in 2010 when he was asked for his Facebook password.

"I did not want to do it, but because I really needed my job and he implied that this was a condition of recertification, I reluctantly gave him the password," Collins said in February in testimony before the Maryland House of Representatives, which is considering ACLU-backed legislation to block such practices.

"He then proceeded to log in to my account using my private credentials. I asked him, 'Why are you logging on?' He said, 'I am looking through your messages, on your wall and in your photos to make sure you are not a gang member or have any gang affiliation.'"

An Associated Press report this week highlighted Justin Bassett, a New York statistician who said that, during a job interview, the interviewer pulled up his Facebook page and asked for his password. He said he refused.

The ACLU said it's found an increasing number of companies with such policies on Facebook. They say it's more common with public agencies, such as law enforcement.

Asking someone for their password is actually a violation of Facebook's terms of service, but a company spokesperson recently said Facebook has no plans to take legal action to stop the practice.

Franson's bill would nip the privacy-violating password-sharing trend in the bud here in Minnesota. And, as strange as it is to say this about a bill introduced by a Republican who believes the poor just need to lace up their boots a little tighter to lift themselves out of poverty, that's legislation we can get behind.


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