Illinois Legislature / Social Media
12:35 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

Bill would ban businesses from requiring social media passwords of applicants

Updated 3:54 p.m. Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey used in this report.

An Illinois state representative from Chicago has introduced legislation in Springfield that would ban businesses from requiring job applicants to divulge their social media passwords.

WJBC radio in Bloomington reports state Rep. La Shawn Ford is against the practice. The Democrat says it gives employers access to personal and financial information on websites like Facebook and Twitter. Ford says the bill wouldn't ban employers from using information on job applicants' public profiles during hiring.

State Rep. Jil Tracy of Quincy is on the Illinois House Labor Committee. The Republican says the legislation would over-regulate businesses.

If employers, are, indeed asking this of their potential or current employees, the phones are probably ringing off the hook at the American Civil Liberties Union, right?

"Well, I have to say that we have not so much had people directly call us as I think, again, these are stories you hear, and these are things you regularly read that companies are doing," Ed Yohnka, with the ACLU of Illinois said.

Most news reports lead back to two just examples -- in Maryland and Montana.

Even if the problem isn't widespread, Yohnka says the ban is a good idea.

"There are some zones of privacy that ought not to be penetrated in order for us to get a job, even in this tough economic environment," Yohnka said.

Ford says he's gotten calls from constituents about it, but none of them have been willing to talk to the media.

The proposal failed to get enough votes in the House Labor committee last week. But several members were absent and the sponsor of the legislation says he plans to try again.