House Dems look to block employer access to social-network data

Engel's Social Networking Online Protection Act, H.R. 5050, would completely prohibit employers and schools from asking for passwords or other information used to access these sites. The bill explicitly bans these entities from demanding access to social networking sites either to discipline, discriminate or deny employment or enrollment.

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"Part of the attraction to social networking is that you can feel free to interact with those you wish to, and post content as if it were part of a group dynamic," Engel said. "Passwords are the gateway to many avenues containing personal and sensitive content — including email accounts, bank accounts and other information."

"The American people deserve the right to keep their personal accounts private," said Rep. Jan Schakowsy (D-Ill.), an original co-sponsor. "No one should have to worry that their personal account information, including passwords, can be required by an employer or educational institution, and if this legislation is signed into law, no one will face that possibility."

Engel said that while New York state is one of several states that has moved to prohibit this practice, a federal law is needed to "protect all Americans across the country."

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