Employers ask applicants for Facebook passwords

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

TOWSON, Md. -- A Maryland man, who says his privacy was violated, took action after his employer asked for the password to his Facebook account.

Robert Collins said he had to go through another vetting process in 2010 after taking a leave of absence from the Maryland Department of Corrections.

He complied because he feared for his job. "I'm like so what exactly are you doing? What are you looking for? 'I'm looking through your messages, through your wall, through your pictures and through your posts to make sure that you're not flashing any gang signs or involved in any illegal activity.' I was just mortified. I just thought that crossed the line."

Collins has since left that job but his complaint to the American Civil Liberties Union prompted change.

The new policy at the Maryland Department of Corrections states that job candidates will not be asked to share their login or password information but job applicants are asked to log into Facebook voluntarily as an interviewer looks over their shoulder.

The department argues that kind of screening is useful for public safety and law enforcement jobs.

Bus is the practice legal. As shocking as it is that employers would ask for access to this personal information, in most states, it's absolutely legal.

It's unclear just how many employers are asking job applicants for passwords.

It's Facebook's police to prohibit anyone from soliciting the login information or accessing an account belonging to someone else.

Lawmakers in Maryland are considering a bill to make it illegal for an employer to ask for password information. In Illinois, a Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act is on the table after a state lawmaker received complaints from constituents.