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Ill. House approves ban on 
password snooping by bosses

Published: Friday, March 30, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – Employers would be barred from asking workers and job applicants for their passwords to social media sites such as Facebook under legislation approved Thursday by the Illinois House.

Although it’s rare, some employers have begun requesting passwords from job seekers so interviewers can browse their profiles, or asking them to sign into their accounts during interviews. The practice appears to be more common in law enforcement and government agencies.

The legislation, approved 78-30, would prohibit employers from demanding passwords or ordering workers and applicants to sign into their accounts for management to review them.

Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, said his bill recognizes that people should not have to open up every aspect of their lives to get a job.

“This is a right to privacy, and it sets the agency or any employer up for a lawsuit,” Ford said.

Current law prohibits employers from considering protected information such as marital status or religious views – information they might see in an applicant’s private account. Facebook has warned employers they risk discrimination claims if they look at that kind of information and then reject a job applicant.

Under the Illinois measure, bosses could still ask for usernames to view public information online. They also would be able to monitor work-owned computers and enforce workplace Internet policies.

Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, will sponsor the measure in the Senate, Ford said.

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