Social Networking Online Protection Act introduced in Congress

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SNOPA would heavily fine employer’s for seeking passwords from job applicants, students, and employees. 

A new bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would fine employers up to $10,000 for attempting to force workers into giving up their social media passwords.

Representatives Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) recently introduced the Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA) in response to growing concern over what some are convinced is an increasingly widespread practice.

There is vague evidence to support the claim that the practice has occurred outside of its most notable case—that of police officer Robert Collins, who’s currently backed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Yet, policymakers have been working since March to stop the disturbing trend before it has a chance to spread.

Two senators, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), have been in the process of drafting a bill similar to SNOPA since late March but have yet to do so.

In March, members of congress in both California, Illinois, and Maryland introduced bills that would outlaw the practice in each state. Maryland’s ban took effect in April.

SNOPA would prevent workplaces, colleges, universities, and schools from seeking out employee, job applicant, or student passwords. Those who violate the rule would face a $10,000 civil penalty, The Hill reported.

“We must draw the line somewhere and define what is private,” Engel said in a statement to the The Hill. “No one would feel comfortable going to a public place and giving out their username and passwords to total strangers. They should not be required to do so at work, at school, or while trying to obtain work or an education.”

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