Maryland Stops Asking Staff For Facebook Logins

After pressure from the ACLU and heavy public backlash, Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services announced that for the next 45 days it will stop asking current and prospective employees for their Facebook login information.

Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has agreed to temporarily discontinue a year-long practice of asking prospective employees and staff undergoing recertification to share their Facebook login information, after the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland asked for an end to the practice.

A spokesman for Maryland’s Public Safety Secretary Gary Maynard told the Washington Post that the practice had been suspended for 45 days, while the agency reviews the procedure.

The official had received a letter from the ACLU last week on behalf of corrections officer Robert Collins, who had been required to share his Facebook login ID and password during his recertification interview.

ACLU’s letter and campaign gained notoriety from a YouTube video detailing Collins’ story, and an online petition meant to show popular support against the unpopular state measure.

Although the release of current and prospective employees’ Facebook login info had supposedly been “voluntary,” according to the spokesman for the agency, a written statement released to the Post stated, “in light of these concerns raised by the ACLU and because this is a newly emerging area in the law, the department has suspended the process of asking for social media information for 45 days to review the procedure and to make sure it is being used consistently and appropriately.”

The rationale for requesting the logins includes researching whether staff have any connections to gangs, organized crime or even terrorists — that’s how contraband gets smuggled into prisons. And even though the practice required the consent of the individual, the ACLU, regards the policy as potential leeway for employee harassment and invasion of privacy.

Most of you guys seemed to agree, based on the comments section from our post last week. Like @shelleyrae said, “If a husband can’t use a wife’s gmail login to peek at her email contents, then an employer DEFINITELY should not ask for or use a person’s FB login.” And PsychGen pointed out that the measure “would be a violation of Facebooks NO-SHARING PASSWORDS clause.”

Commerter MarthaMBKR showed a more conciliatory attitude, saying, “In my opinion, employers do have the right to decide whether or not to hire or fire someone based upon what is open to public viewing on their page. Beyond that — it is gross violation of personal privacy..”

Do you think the Maryland agency will resume the practice of asking for Facebook logins? Does the agency have a legitimate concern that justifies the request for this information, or should the employer find another way to research staff’s backgrounds.