Want A Job? Password, Please!

Maryland corrections officer Robert Collins approached the ACLU of Maryland late last year, disturbed that he was required to provide his Facebook login and password to the Maryland Division of Corrections (DOC) during a recertification interview. He had to sit there while the interviewer logged on to his account and read not only his postings, but those of his family and friends too.

"We live in a time when national security is the highest priority, but it must be delicately balanced with personal privacy," said Collins. "My fellow officers and I should not have to allow the government to view our personal Facebook posts and those of our friends, just to keep our jobs."

In this video, Officer Collins tells his story:

Please note that by playing this clip You Tube and Google will place a long-term cookie on your computer. Please see You Tube's privacy statement on their website and Google's privacy statement on theirs to learn more. To view the ACLU's privacy statement, click here.

On January 25, the ACLU of Maryland sent a letter (PDF) to Public Safety Secretary Gary Maynard on behalf of Officer Collins, concerning the Division of Correction's blanket requirement that applicants for employment with the division, as well as current employees undergoing recertification, provide the government with their social media account usernames and personal passwords for use in employee background checks.

It has been three weeks, and we have yet to hear a response. Does this mean that Secretary Maynard has no intention of changing this policy?

The demand for Facebook login information is not only a gross breach of privacy for Officer Collins and his friends, it raises significant legal concerns under the Federal Stored Communications Act and Maryland state law, which protect privacy rights and extend protections to electronic communications.

As many of us begin to rely on sites like Facebook to stay connected to our friends and family, it's important for employers and the government to keep in mind that, for most users, Facebook is a medium for private communications. It can be adjusted to be more or less public, both by the settings and by how many people are invited to be friends. So the Maryland DOC requiring full disclosure of an employee's Facebook page is no different from your boss looking through your diary, personal emails or home videos.

Don't allow this illegal breach of privacy to continue to go unnoticed and unaddressed. Demand that Secretary Maynard stop snooping!

Add a comment (9)
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dbobsnodgrass

Wish I lived in Maryland so I could sign to stop your Secretary Maynard.

Lisa Andrews

This is not Right!! Something has to be done abt.
Bosses being able to go to your Social Media Account and actuallly pry into your private life. This has to be stopped!! C'mon ACLU!!

Anonymous

no doubt you're republican...

Kate

The last sentence which asks readers to take a stand and write a letter should be amended to state that only Maryland residents are allowed to fill out the form.

Anonymous

Seems like they intend to run back ground checks on all family and friends. It certainly is bullying at the least

Anonymous

Why doesn't ACLU take legal action instead of lamely telling people to lamely complain? Is the ACLU just talk and no action?

Spekkio

The petition action is limited to residents of Maryland, apparently.

Anonymous

Interesting ... the government is requiring facebook users to violate their terms of service by allowing someone other than themselves to access their account.

Anonymous

This tastes like USSR.

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