Engel’s documentation, co-sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, is yet to be furthered to a committee in the Congress. According to the document, “social media sites have become a widespread communications tool – both personally and professionally – all across the world.  However, a person’s so-called ‘digital footprint’ is largely unprotected,” Rep. Engel (D-N.Y) said in a statement.  “Passwords are the gateway to many avenues containing personal and sensitive content – including email accounts, bank accounts and other information.”

In recent events, employers have asked applicants to provide their personal information including usernames and passwords as a part of interviews. This trend however, has also been followed by schools and colleges demanding information as part of disciplining a student.

In late March, Republicans in the House accepted a measure that would allow the Federal Communications Commission to prevent employers from forcing workers to submit their Facebook passwords.

Such legislation will not only benefit users of the social networks but also the employers in the event of possible discrimination. One company department head said on a website that knowing personal details about an applicant could possibly lead to discrimination charges if the applicant found or even believed that the employers were not hiring him/her based on information combed from their social site such as sexual orientation.

Earlier this month, Maryland became the first state to put a legislation in action that would prevent employers from demanding applicants hand over social networking log-in credentials. At least seven others US states are considering similar legislation and the American Civil Liberties Union is monitoring the situation.

Engel,  a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said “we need a federal statute to protect all Americans across the country. This is a matter of personal privacy and makes sense in our digital world.”

Engel posted the announcement on the legislation on his Facebook page. As of Friday afternoon, he had two “Likes.”

SNOPA (Social Networking Online Privacy Act) in US congress for consideration – Part 1

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