APRIL 2012: If you thought “there should be a law against that” when you heard about employers making applicants provide Facebook passwords or about apps secretly uploading users’ private information, you’re not alone.
Members of both houses of Congress are leaping in to protect app-loving, job-seeking tech users. (And that’s a lot of us!)
Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, a social network named Path and 30 other app developers have been asked to explain themselves by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce. Lawmakers want to know what information they collect, what they do with it, and what kind of notice they provide to app users.
They’re asking questions because recently it was discovered that Path, a photo-sharing and messaging app with two million users, had been automatically uploading all contact information from users’ iPhones without their knowledge or permission (other smartphone brands were not affected). Path has since apologized, changed its ways, and says the collected data has been deleted. But the Committee wants to know: what’s to stop the next app developer from doing the same thing?
Just two days later, two U.S. senators asked the Department of Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to launch an investigation involving Facebook. They want to know if it’s invasion of privacy for employers to require job applicants to provide their Facebook passwords. They compared it to asking for applicants’ house keys or asking to read their diaries. Furthermore, accessing private Facebook pages may give employers access to information — like sexual orientation and age — that is private by law.
What do the senators, and Facebook corporate, want? A total ban on social networking snooping.