Angela William’s Social Networking Privacy Bill is About Protecting Privacy, Not Rewarding Exhibitionism
by Eileen | 8:37 pm, January 30, 2013 | Comments Off
Rep. Angela William’s bill to prohibit employers and prospective employers from asking for access to social media sites has got an unexpected bit of limelight after the tremendously vulgar antics of CarlyCrunkBear made national news.
However, this hastily scribbled blurb from 7News would really have benefited had the reporter done justice to the proposed law, instead of unwisely appending a quick recap of the saga of Carly McKinney to a discussion of a bill that’s got zilch to do with it.
Angela William’s bill would make it illegal for an employer or potential employer to compel you to provide access to a social media account. That would cover demanding your password, demanding to be added as a friend, demanding that you log-in and allow that person to watch, or demanding that you disclose all your accounts under pseudonyms.
AN EMPLOYER MAY NOT REQUEST OR REQUIRE THAT AN EMPLOYEE OR APPLICANT DISCLOSE ANY USER NAME, PASSWORD, OR OTHER MEANS FOR ACCESSING THE EMPLOYEE’S OR APPLICANT’S PERSONAL ACCOUNT OR SERVICE THROUGH THE EMPLOYEE’S OR APPLICANT’S ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS DEVICE.
Sound clear cut to me. And that’s all great.
What Carly did wouldn’t have been protected had such a law already been in place. She was making no attempt to hide her identity and got in trouble when a local reporter received an anonymous tip. We aren’t talking about a supervisor who hacked into Carly’s account, threatened her job if she didn’t give up the password, or hacked into her computer. At no point did anyone make a demand or threaten her to get the contents of her Twitter feed.
Actually, none of that would have been necessary or, to get strictly logical, possible, as Carly’s Twitter feed was public.
Expecting impunity for your public conduct and expecting privacy for private social media accounts aren’t the same thing.
We have such a thing as the Expectation of Privacy, a concept that law does not grant when the individual concerned never acted as if she expected privacy. Much as courts do abuse EoP, in this case a young woman wanted attention and got it. She should not be allowed to pretend otherwise at this point.
I am a great fan of a legal regime that respects privacy. I am decidedly less enthused about the notion of behaving badly in public and whining about your rights when others treat you differently based on how you conduct yourself.
And I think the professional media ought not run a puff piece that links Angela William’s intelligent and worthy bill with the CrunkBears of the world. We all have control over what we put on line and how public we make it. In those things where we ask for everyone to look, we can’t unring the bell. The law does not exist to protect us from our own foolish choices. It most emphatically does not exist for us to bend reality when the hard facts of our own conduct have become inconvenient.
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