By Colleen Quinn
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE -- Bosses and school administrators would not be allowed to ask for someone's social media passwords as a condition of employment or enrollment, under legislation passed unanimously in the Senate Tuesday.
"It is not necessary to see someone's pictures or Instagram before deciding to offer them a job," Sen. Cynthia Creem said before the Senate approved the bill 39-0. "Just as 20 years ago we would have cringed at the thought of an employer asking to look through our photo albums, why is this any different?"
Creem, a Newton Democrat who sponsored the bill (S 2270), said intrusion from employers or school administrators puts everyone's privacy at risk since access to one person's account reveals information about their friends too.
Students, employees and job applicants are being asked to "friend" their employer or school staff as a condition of employment or acceptance as a student, Creem said.
"You can imagine that you go into work for your employer and the first thing they say is 'Will you be my friend?' I thought people were asking me that when I went to high school. I didn't think people were asking me that when I went to apply for a job that I would be their friend, or that I would give my information," Creem said.
The legislation prohibits employers and schools - elementary through college level - from asking for someone's passwords in order to view their social media pages. The legislation makes exceptions for certain financial firms, which must comply with federal laws about communicating information to clients, according to Creem.
The bill makes it clear that anything that someone posts that is not private, and is publicly available is "fair game," Creem said.
"And any information that is your private information remains your private information," she said.
Fourteen states have passed similar social media privacy protection laws, including Vermont.
The bill now heads to the House.