Colo. Lawmakers Push to Protect Social Media Privacy
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. In efforts to find the right employee, some companies are asking applicants for their social media usernames and passwords.
On Tuesday, a democratic committee voted 11-0 to bar most employers from requiring access to their worker's personal social media accounts. These lawmakers believe people shouldn't have to sacrifice a paycheck for some privacy.
Because social media is so new, lawmakers are stepping onto unfamiliar territory.
Damon Davis, attorney and shareholder at Killian & Davis, said, "There's also some First Amendment issues coming up. The courts haven't resolved a lot of these issues and I think there's still a lot of developments still to come."
Colorado could join several other states in protecting social media privacy in the workplace.
"Even as an employer myself I think there are limits to how invasive you should be in your employee's private lives," Davis said.
Brianna Gomes, a freshman at Colorado Mesa University, said, "I think employers shouldn't have that information, it defeats the purpose of having a password in the first place."
"You wouldn't ask your employees for the keys to their house and wander around and see if there's information there about whether they're a good employee or not," said Davis.
Employees could still view any public postings, just not have access to a person's private account.
"Some employers are simply trying to get as much information as possible and that's where you really need the legislature to come in and balance those competing interests," Davis said.
Chelsea Knoll, a senior at CMU, said, "It's too much to ask for the password and username. I don't see how that would fit into why someone would be hired, fired, promoted."
In a tough job market, the issue raises an important question, is protecting privacy worth sacrificing a job?
"In that situation I would give up my privacy, only to feed my family," Gomes said.
Brian Casaus, a senior at CMU, said, "I don't think I'd take a job like that, because I need something that actually pertains to my personal views."
Davis said, "People shouldn't necessarily have to give up their right to privacy just to put food on the table, especially in these tough times where it's hard enough to make a living as it is."
Lawmakers hope this bill will be the first of many social media precedents.
Colorado's bill was amended to exempt law enforcement agencies. The measure awaits one more committee vote before it's considered by the full house.