It’s bad enough that some employers spy on their employees Facebook activity, but one Maryland state employer has went too far and the American Civil Liberties Union is fighting back.
Robert Collins, a nursing student and officer at the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services took a leave of absence after his mother passed away and upon his return he was told he could only be reinstated if he handed over his Facebook password, a standard procedure that had been put in place during his absence.
In a taped interview Collins revealed:
“My personal communications, my personal posts, my personal pictures, looking at my personally identifiable information, where my religious beliefs, my political beliefs, my sexuality — all of these things are possibly disclosed on this page,” adding, “It’s absolute total invasion and overreach.”
While Collins’ employer may believe creating such a procedure is fair, it’s in direct violation of the Federal Stored Communications Act which specifically states that no one, including an employer can access a persons stored electronic communications without that persons permission, permission which can not be coerced out of the person, for example by refusing to reinstate their employment until they give into those demands.
In a statement regarding the issue the Maryland ACLU stated:
“If allowed to continue, this practice would permit the government to review wall postings, e-mail communications, and photographs posted privately by the friends and family of job applicants and employees undergoing recertification.”
Here’s Collins being interviewed about this egregious violation of his personal rights: