User name and password, please.
That’s what many Facebook members, and members of other social networking sites, are reportedly hearing these days from employers, potential employers, and even institutions of higher education — and a trio of state lawmakers want them to stop the practice that has caused consternation on a national level.
State Rep. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) is one of them.
His House Bill (HB) 5523 — which would ban employers and educational institutions from requesting access information associated with a person’s social networking account — was introduced last month and now sits in the state House Energy and Technology Committee, where it awaits a hearing.
“While our technological advances are beneficial, we must ensure that our laws protecting private information advance, as well. Social networking sites allow individuals to distinguish between public and private information. Employers and educational institutions should respect that distinction,” he said. “People have the right to share certain parts of their lives with the public, while sharing other parts with only friends and family. Why should privacy barriers be eliminated due to technological advancements? They shouldn’t.”
Nesbitt said earlier this week that he’s trying to push for a hearing in the House Energy and Technology Committee and that he “hasn’t seen any opposition” to the bill yet.
The proposal would also prohibit employers from firing or failing to hire someone, or educational institutions from discharging, disciplining, failing to admit, or otherwise discriminating against a student or prospective student for refusal to provide their log-in information to their personal accounts on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
State Rep. Eileen Kowall (R-White Lake, Highland) serves on the House Energy and Technology Committee. She agreed that Nesbitt’s proposal, which is co-sponsored by state Rep. Kenneth Horn (R-Byron Center), chair of that committee, has merit.
Kowall said she put in a request to the Legislative Services Bureau for a similar bill.
“I completely agree (with the legislation),” she said. “I don’t think employers have (the right to that information). You have your privacy and employers have no right to that.”
However, she also said there needs to be “some kind of repercussions” for someone posting information that could be considered “libel” on Facebook or Twitter about their employer.
A representative for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce could not be reached for comment on the legislation prior to press time.