Washington State Mulls Allowing Employers To Grab Facebook Passwords

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Bosses investigating allegations of workplace misconduct in the State of Washington could soon legally obtain passwords and full access to individual employees’ social media accounts.

CBS Seattle reports a bill before the Washington Legislature could be amended to create the exemption, which would permit employers to “require or demand access to a personal account if an employee or prospective employee has allegations of workplace misconduct or giving away an employer’s proprietary information.”

Additional language in the proposal requires employers to keep whatever they find confidential, unless what they find is deemed criminal. A bankers’ lobbyist lauded the proposal as a way for employers to take care of alleged crimes against their interests without involving the police by expanding private businesses’ investigative powers.

An advocate for online privacy said the whole idea infringes not only on a workers’ rights to individual privacy, but also on the privacy of everyone whom he or she has befriended through social media. The American Civil Liberties Union also blasted the amendment, calling it “an employer fishing expedition.”

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.