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Business groups in Washington state have been pushing for a rewrite of a bill so that it no longer would have barred employers from asking for social media credentials, including passwords, during job interviews. The Associated Press reported last year that some employers around the country were asking applicants for their social media information. The amendment to the Washington bill later was withdrawn over vagueness.
In 2012 and this year, seven states banned employers from asking job applicants and employees for their social network passwords, with some exceptions. An additional 33 states are considering similar laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Proponents of the Washington revision said the bill would open an avenue for illegal activity by employees, such as divulging proprietary or consumer information to outsiders through social networks. Pam Greenberg of the National Conference of State Legislatures says bills being considered around the country have similar provisions allowing for disclosure of passwords during investigations.
California’s law allows “requests” of passwords during investigations. But Washington’s amendment would have gone beyond that. The amendment “would turn this privacy bill into an employer fishing expedition,” said Shankar Narayan of the Washington chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Lawmakers there said they will keep tweaking the bill to address concerns by business groups.