Saturday, February 19, 2011

Want a job in MD's DoC? Get ready to hand over your Facebook password

Officer Robert Collins had a recertification interview with the Maryland Department of Corrections late last year. During that interview, he was asked to give up his Facebook login information as part of the background check and also to watch as they went through not just his posts, but his friends' and family's as well.

The ACLU has taken up the case, and publicized the issue on Friday Feb. 18 when, after three weeks, they still had no reply from Maryland Public Safety Secretary Gary Maynard.

The ACLU's letter (.PDF) to Maynard included the following statement:
I write on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and Division of Correction (DOC) Officer Robert Collins, concerning DOC’s blanket requirement that applicants for employment with the Division, as well as current employees undergoing recertification, provide the government with their social media account usernames and personal passwords for use in employee background checks. As discussed below, we believe the DOC policy constitutes a frightening and illegal invasion of privacy for DOC applicants and employees -- as well those who communicate with them electronically via social media.
The ACLU of Maryland sent their letter to Maynard on January 25.

It is one thing for potential employers to browse through your public Facebook, MySpace or Twitter posts. It would seem to be a completely different matter for them to look through all your private information on a social networking site.

Collins said,
"We live in a time when national security is the highest priority, but it must be delicately balanced with personal privacy. My fellow officers and I should not have to allow the government to view our personal Facebook posts and those of our friends, just to keep our jobs."
It's true that we have warned before about what you publicly post to Facebook, as public posts can be seen by anyone, including potential employers. However, this DoC policy goes further than that, and would actually mean you would have to delete your Facebook profile, period, if you wanted to work for them and maintain the privacy not just of yourself, but of your Facebook friends. Watch a video show Collins' description of the matter.

Update: After the ACLU chimed in, the DoC began asking applicants to “voluntarily” to provide access to their social media accounts (that's better?).

Via: The Atlantic, ACLU

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