House votes down law to stop employers from asking for Facebook passwords

A proposed amendment that would have prohibited employers from demanding potential hires' usernames and passwords to social networking sites was shot down Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives, a day after its proposal, reports TechCrunch. The amendment lost with 236 votes against 184.

The legislation was proposed by Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), and would have been added onto the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2012, H.R. 3309. This amendment would have allowed the FCC to stop employers from asking job applicants for confidential information like their usernames and passwords to social networking sites like Facebook.

The amendment was quickly proposed following media controversy of such corporate behavior, which is apparently becoming more common with the rising prevalence of social networking. Facebook itself weighed in on the issue just last week, and the company's opinion was not surprisingly quite unfavorable toward the practice.

Rep. Perlmutter explained the issue when he introduced the amendment:

"People have an expectation of privacy when using social media like Facebook and Twitter. They have an expectation that their right to free speech and religion will be respected when they use social media outlets. No American should have to provide their confidential personal passwords as a condition of employment. Both users of social media and those who correspond share the expectation of privacy in their personal communications. Employers essentially can act as imposters and assume the identity of an employee and continually access, monitor and even manipulate an employee's personal social activities and opinions. That's simply a step too far."

Almost all House Democrats voted for the amendment, with only two voting against. Only one House Republican voted in favor of the change. Most Republicans argued that the proposed legislation wouldn't actually help the issue, but that they would be willing to collaborate on new legislation later in the future.

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