CISPA: Employers Can Demand Your Facebook Password


Images from 57un.wordpress.com

Images from 57un.wordpress.com

Though it hasn’t garnered the media attention that SOPA did, a new act currently working through Congress has the potential to affect the daily lives of Facebook users and even casual, online browsers. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), is primarily intended to prevent cyber terrorism. According to a recent PC Mag article, it would allow the government and private corporations to exchange information about a potential attack. Broaching into social media and Internet history for crime investigation and prevention is nothing new this act represents an unprecedented change through a liability clause that circumvents most privacy settings.

In response to these concerns

Rep. Ed Perlmutter recently proposed an amendment making it illegal for employers to demand social media passwords as a condition of employment as explained by the Huffington Post. As many employers actually expect potential hires to have and use a Facebook profile, according to Time.com, this trend presents a catch-22 for individuals looking to keep their social, online interactions personal.

The proposed amendment

The proposed amendment was voted down in the house, but in April of 2013, the Senate has indicated it has plans to consider the bill, where it was rejected last year according to Uinterview. Perlmutter’s suggestion was dismissed as an irrelevant attempt to kill the bill, negating any concerns about personal privacy stemming from the policy changes, Huff Post reported. The attack on the Boston Marathon may fuel lawmakers’ attempts to move the bill through in the name of national security, but CISPA still faces a promised veto from the president, according to the same article. With a terrorist attack in a major city fresh on everyone’s minds, the bill is likely to gain a stronger foothold than in the past.

Remnants of the media

The media have focused on ominous tweets from bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, such as “Never underestimate the rebel with a cause” only a few weeks before the bombing as seen on a Boston NPR news website. However, many of the tweets leading up to — and following — the attacks, were more mundane, covering typical teenager topics like procrastination and cheeseburgers, which calls into question the value of online snooping.

If CISPA was passed, Lifelock.com services and those like them would become even more essential as the bill, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, would override virtually all privacy laws.

From illegal downloads to bomb threats

Anything from an illegal download to the use of a certain phrase may potentially trigger government action under the open constraints of the bill, making it as risky to say “bomb” in a status update as in an airport. The 2012 online response to SOPA was protested by Internet powerhouses like Wikipedia and Google as the bill would seriously affect (or even remove) sites driven by user-generated content. CISPA, according to Chicagonow.com, hasn’t gotten the same response; much of the protests come from the hacking group Anonymous, and the proposed blackout, a measure that was extremely successful in the shutdown of SOPA, was uneventful.

The larger truth may be that in an age when Americans are used to websites and advertisers remembering their browsing history, Internet privacy is a relatively minor concern. Unfortunately, employer access to social media accounts opens the door not only to protected information, but to misrepresentation of a private individual through corporate use of an account. Concerned citizens have created an online petition through Change.org to prevent over legislation of Internet freedom

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