Bill protecting social media passwords passes Illinois House, now moves to Senate

Jessica Floum

The Illinois House of Representatives approved a bill March 30 that would ban employers from asking potential and current employees for their passwords to Facebook and other social media sites.

Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago), who sponsored the bill, told The Daily his proposed legislation would help both employers and employees.

“If it’s not set up, then employers could possibly be sued civilly for privacy passwords,” Ford said. “It’s raising awareness of the law that it’s illegal for employers to ask for it in Illinois.”

Ford sponsored the bill as a response to constituents who wrote letters complaining that employers had violated their privacy by asking for their Facebook passwords during interviews, he said.

When filling out an internship application for the Betcheslovethis blog, Medill junior and former Daily staffer Sarah Daoud said she felt “weird.” The application asked for her Facebook information, which made her question whether they wanted to see how she used social media or whether they wanted to review her personal profile.

Concerned, Daoud reviewed her Facebook profile and found nothing wrong. However, she didn’t get the internship.

“A little part of me wonders if it had anything to do with my Facebook,” Daoud said.

Betsy Gill, Northwestern University’s assistant director of internship services, said students should feel assured an employer won’t ask them for something that seems unethical, but added that students should be proactive in representing themselves online.

“Be as conservative as you want to be or be as liberal as you want to be, but know that there’s going to be a positive or negative outcome,” Gill said.

The legislation will be sponsored in the Illinois Senate by Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont).

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