Lawmakers push bill to ban bosses from asking for Facebook passwords

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Although several lawmakers, including Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) and Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), have been drafting legislation to ban the practice, Engel and Schakowsky are the first to introduce a bill.

"We must draw the line somewhere and define what is private," Engel said in a statement. "No one would feel comfortable going to a public place and giving out their username and passwords to total strangers. They should not be required to do so at work, at school, or while trying to obtain work or an education. This is a matter of personal privacy and makes sense in our digital world.” 

An employer who violates the rules would be subject to a $10,000 civil penalty under the bill.

Outrage first erupted after The Associated Press reported earlier this year that some bosses have demanded that job applicants provide passwords to their private Facebook accounts to check for embarrassing or damaging information.

The passwords give employers access to the users’ private messages, photos and the profiles of their friends.

The AP story cited mostly isolated incidents — it is unclear how widespread the practice is.