Government employer asks man for Facebook login during job interview

Maryland Department of Corrections asks a candidate for his Facebook password. Is this the next privacy frontier?

Published February 21, 2011 3:01PM (EST)

When do background checks go too deep? When is a routine security measure a total invasion of privacy? When Facebook is involved, suggests the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU recently sent a letter to the Maryland Department of Corrections in reference to a blanket policy requiring applicants to submit social media log-ins and passwords for routine background checks, reports the Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal. The letter details the experience of Officer Robert Collins, a seven-year veteran of the department, who spoke out about the new policy after applying for a new position. In a statement for ACLU Maryland, Collins described his employer's request and his reaction:

Here I am, a US citizen who hasn’t broken any laws, who hasn’t committed any crime, and I have an employer looking at my personal communications, my personal posts, my personal my pictures, you know looking at my personally identifiable information… you know, where my religious, my political beliefs, my sexuality; all of these things are possibly disclosed on this page. It’s an absolute total invasion, and an overreach, and overstep of their power.

It's unclear how long the policy has been in place, but the ACLU's stance is clear. Calling the state's request for such deep access for a routine background check a "frightening and illegal invasion of privacy" that raises "significant legal concerns," the ACLU draws attention to how little legislative attention has been paid to online privacy.

Officer Collins discusses his experience in a YouTube video for ACLU Maryland:

By Adam Clark Estes

Adam Clark Estes blogs the news for Salon. Email him at and follow him on Twitter @adamclarkestes

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