USAToday, this morning, is noting Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut calling on the Department of Justice and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to launch investigations spawned by The Associated Press' reporting last week that some private and public agencies around the country have been asking job seekers for their social media credentials -- a practice that alarms privacy advocates, but the legality of which remains murky. [ Sen. Blumenthal's press release ]
Facebook reportedly warned employers last week not to ask job applicants for their passwords to the site so they can poke around on their profiles, threatening legal action against applications that violate its long-standing policy against sharing passwords.
"Specifically," the article said, "Senators Schumer and Blumenthal want to know if the practice violates the Stored Communications Act or Computer Fraud and Abuse Act -- respectively, prohibiting intentional access to electronic information without authorization and intentional access to a computer without authorization to obtain information."
Schumer and Blumenthal were also addressing whether two court cases relating to supervisors asking current employees for social media credentials could be applied to job applicants. [See Pietrylo v. Hillstone Restaurant Group, Case 2:06-cv-05754 (D.N.J. 2009) and Konop v. Hawaiian Airlines, Inc., Case 99-55106, 302 F.3d 868 (9th Cir. 2002) ]
Related here was a USAToday article last week about local authorities routinely monitoring the Internet. That article noted "the issue of properly handling social-media content is also igniting heated debates about privacy and the limits of the current law that spells out how police can legally retrieve personal data. Adding to the confusion is the reality that rules and logistics for obtaining private information are still not firmly established for many police departments. While about 88% of law enforcement agencies have used social-media sites — Facebook is the most frequently used, while Twitter is gaining — in monitoring and investigative work, according to a survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, fewer than half of all law enforcement agencies, 48.6%, have a social-media policies."