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Legal Commentary

: eLegal Canton

Demanding Social Media Passwords From Job Seekers Is Wrong

By David Canton


Today’s Slaw post:

The issue of corporate or government employers asking for social media login ID’s and passwords for job seekers has reared its head again. See this CBC article entitled U.S. job seekers get asked for Facebook passwords. And see this article I wrote a year ago on the subject. This is wrong on so many levels that it is hard to believe anyone would ask for that.

It is not unusual for employers to look at what job applicants are posting on publicly accessible areas of facebook and twitter. We can debate what influence that should have on the hiring decision, and whether the use of certain information found there might violate hiring laws.

But no one should ever be asked to give up a logon ID or password to anything to get a job. It is the equivalent of asking to tap a job seeker’s phone and listen to all their calls, or to plant a GPS enabled audio and video recording device on the person as they carry out their lives.

And since the employer has access to the person’s social media accounts, it allows the prospective employer to impersonate the individual if they chose to do so, and to obtain other personal information that would enable identity theft. I’m surprised employers would put themselves in a position where they could be accused of doing that.

It violates privacy rights, and the terms of use of most sites. One of the scary aspects is that it demonstrates that the employer does not understand the basic concepts of privacy, security, confidentiality, and breaching terms of use. If they can’t get these basic issues right in the employee context, it doesn’t give much comfort that they understand or properly deal with these issues regarding the information of their customers or constituents in general.

In many cases job seekers will hand over the passwords becasue they are desperate to get a job – even though they know they are being asked to do something wrong. Not exactly a good way to start off an employment relationship.

Full post as published by eLegal Canton on March 21, 2012 (boomark / email).

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