In a broadcast Feb. 18 veteran reporter Harrison Keely of the Chattanooga Times warned his audience of an infringement that they need to be aware of. He stated that employers demanding the passwords of current and prospective employees online accounts has become an issue in many state across the country. He further iterated that no such legislation has been proposed for the state of Tennessee.
He cited a piece of proposed legislation introduced in the Georgia General Assembly by state lawmaker Sandra Scott (D-Rex, Ga). The legislation known as House Bill 117 would restrict the access of employers to, as she says, "snoop into citizens' personal business," was necessary to set a standard in the state for restricting employers from requesting account information of it's employees.
Rep. Scott further said that Feb. 14 was the deadline for the republican controlled legislature in Tennessee to introduce new proposals for this year. As of this interview she had no knowledge of any legislation in the state that addresses this issue. She referenced several Western states which has passed or are in the process of passing legislation regulating this practice but Tennessee is not one of them.
Rep Scott in a recent interview said:
"I feel like that is your business," Scott said. "An employer should not have the right to go snooping. My emails, my Facebook and Twitter, that's my personal space." She added: “Too often the privacy rights of Georgians are unnecessarily being violated by employers.”
On the Federal level:
U.S. Senators Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., recently announced they would ask the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to determine whether the practice violates federal law. Blumenthal said he would draft federal legislation to stop employers from seeking Facebook passwords, which he called an "unreasonable invasion of privacy."
Too often we as citizens are asked to give up some of our rights, "In the interest of National Security". The Intelligence Community uses Social Media as a means of gathering information on a regular basis. Citizens seemingly have no problem with such probing into their lives, but the debate now is whether employers have that same privilege.
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