ACLU Pushes for Social Media Privacy Bill

February 23, 2012

CONTACT: Meredith Curtis, ACLU of Maryland, 410-889-8555; 

Melissa Goemann, ACLU Legislative Director, 410-693-4877; 


Read testimony of ACLU client Robert Collins


ANNAPOLIS - On February 23, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland will testify to the Senate Finance Committee in support of Senate Bill 433, a bill which would prohibit employers from requiring or requesting employees or applicants to disclose their user names or passwords to Internet sites and Web-based accounts as a condition of employment.


Statement of Melissa Goemann, Legislative Director of ACLU of Maryland: "Job applicants and employees should not have to give up their First Amendment rights as well as risk the security of their private information by being forced to divulge their passwords to accounts in order to gain or maintain employment." 


WHAT: Hearing in the Senate Finance Committee on SB 433, Labor and Employment - User Name and Password Privacy Protection.


WHO:  Robert Collins, Client; Melissa Goemann, Legislative Director, ACLU of Maryland. They will be available for media interviews.


WHEN: February 23, 2012, hearing begins at 1 PM.


WHERE: Senate Finance Committee, House Office Building, 6 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD.


BACKGROUND: The ACLU of Maryland took action when Division of Corrections (DOC) Officer Robert Collins called us after he was required to provide his personal Facebook password during a DOC re-certification interview. Collins was an employee with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services when he took a voluntary leave of absence following the death of his mother. Because his job had been filled in his absence, Collins applied for a comparable position within the corrections system and underwent a recertification.  There were no flags during this process, yet an interviewer asked whether he had social media accounts and to provide his passwords. 


Collins felt he had no choice but to provide his password, even though he knew it was not right, because he needed the job to support his family. Collins had to sit there while the interview logged on to his Facebook account and reviewed his messages, wall posts and photos. Now, the ACLU of Maryland joins our client in strongly advocating for legislation that would prohibit employers from demanding the social media passwords of applicants and employees, which exposes not only their private information but also that of all their social media friends.