Baltimore Corrections Officer Forced to Give Up Facebook Password for Re-Hire

Robert Collins, 29, outraged by Facebook password request from employer.

“Do you have a Facebook account or any other social networking accounts?” “Do you have any lewd pictures in your account of yourself or others?” “Are you affiliated with anyone who participates in illegal activities?  If so, who?” “Is there anything you think might require an explanation when I go into your account?”  Did any of these questions make you sweat?  Well, brace yourself, they may be showing up on your next employment application.  As we become more socially connected online, the government is finding this a more economical and pervasive way of doing a background check.  Ask one Baltimore officer who was simply returning to duty after a leave of absence what type of check they wanted to do on him.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Robert Collins, 29, filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), on grounds that “his privacy had been invaded.” He had been off from his job as a Correction’s Officer for four months after his mother died and during his screening–which appeared to be a process of re-applying for his job–they asked that he submit his password for his Facebook account.  You’re sweating now aren’t you?  Many would much rather a DNA drug test before submitting to this type of invasion of privacy–especially when you weren’t expecting it.

But, Collins’ complaint was heard loud and clear and the state Division of Correction has agreed to “suspend such demands for 45 days during a review of the matter.”  But, this doesn’t mean that they will not return to the same tactics.  The suspension of their procedures may simply result in the Division of Correction applying the procedure to new hires only.  Read more here on Collins alarming reaction to this process.  If more people had his reaction and complained, even more of us would be heard.

-J.C. Brooks

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