US Attorney General, Eric Holder, made headlines this week as he is investigating whether employers have the right to ask for Facebook passwords during job interviews, or whether this goes against federal law in America.
While imitation may well be the sincerest form of flattery, if you were to mimic American employers by asking for passwords in the UK you could find yourself in court for violating the terms of the Data Protection Act. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has expressed real concern over the issue, while Facebook has released a statement warning employers that sharing passwords is in breach of the site’s Terms of Service and could lead to legal action.
Most job seekers do not understand the relevance of their social networking profiles in relation to their ability to do a job and are refusing to share personal information on that basis, as the Law of Confidence declares. While sites like Facebook tend to store information such as age, gender and religion, which could put an employer at risk of appearing to discriminate as well as breaching the Data Protection Act.
Perhaps George Orwell was truly ahead of his peers when he wrote of a restricted world where every move made was recorded and could be used against you. Will handing over passwords spell the beginning of a Big Brother society? Should we be battening down the hatches in anticipation of a dystopian future with no right to privacy? Or should we stay calm and find out what’s what according to the law when it comes to sharing information with employers?
We have written a series of blogs with valuable insight into social media and the law which you can browse, as well as a best practice guide. Use our resources to better understand your rights.