This story has been updated.
WESTCHESTER, N.Y. – An amendment to Federal Communication Commission regulation to stop employers from seeking prospective employees' social media usernames and passwords failed in the House of Representatives Monday afternoon.
Reports of the practice have surfaced recently, reported by Facebook and The Associated Press. Facebook called the trend "distressing," and condemned the practice, making the solicitation of the social media giant's passwords a violation of its statement of rights and responsibilities.
"It is a violation of privacy for employers to demand passwords or gain access to employees' purely personal information. I support real privacy protections. However, the amendment proposed yesterday by the Democratic Caucus did not provide real privacy protections," Hayworth said in a statement. "Instead, it would have prevented the FCC from having an open and transparent process in putting into place effective reforms. The amendment was a purely political maneuver intended solely to block real legislative progress. My vote against the amendment was made, as is every vote I take, in order to serve the best interests of the people I am privileged to represent."
The amendment, H.R. 3309 #137, failed almost directly down party lines. U.S. Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-Mount Kisco) voted against the measure, along with 234 other House Republicans. Only one Republican crossed party lines to approve the privacy protection measure, U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-Greenville, N.C.) voted with 183 Democrats.
"The most alarming of these practices is the reported incidents of employers asking prospective or actual employees to reveal their passwords. If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends. We have worked really hard at Facebook to give you the tools to control who sees your information," read a post of Facebook addressing the practice.
Members of The Daily Croton's Facebook community also found the practice disturbing, with Karen Kelsch asking, "What's next -- asking for your ATM pin number?"
Kelsch added: "This is a complete invasion of privacy. There is no reason why any employer needs your user name and password for anything but the equipment that they provide you with (phone, laptop, etc). They run background checks and do reference checks and what someone does or says on Facebook is their business. Now if they do not want employees using social sites during business hours, there is a way to prevent that, and I could understand that but there is no logical reason why an employer needs a user name and password."