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Ovation: SNOPA – The Social Networking Online Protection Act.


The lines between our personal lives and our professional lives are quickly blurring.  It used to be that we were either on the clock or off the clock … we were either at work or not at work.  People were able to enjoy a family life outside of business hours.  With advances in technology this is rarely possible in today’s world.  We now have “virtual lives” to consider as well.

Our online activities and actions say a lot about us.  What we choose to share about ourselves with our online acquaintances differs in many ways.  Social networking has allowed us to share our lives with friends and family across the globe in an instant.  In doing so, we expect a reasonable amount of privacy.

Federal legislation was introduced yesterday that would make it illegal for employers and universities to require a potential or current employee or student to divulge personal online information as part of the institutions hiring or enrollment process.  The Social Networking Online Protection Act, also known as SNOPA, was introduced by Rep. Eliot Engel of New York.

“As you know, social media and networking has become such a widespread part of communications in our country, and around the globe. However, a person’s digital footprint is largely unprotected,” – Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

There have been many examples of employers requiring an applicant to share usernames and passwords as part of their hiring process.  Colleges have required students to either share their Facebook passwords or “friend” them in an attempt to monitor their online activities.

This legislation would ban employers from requiring applicants to provide access to private online accounts and would prevent colleges and universities from disciplining students who refuse to comply.

I think that, because this legislation gives both employers and schools a shield against legal liability, so no one can claim that they should have been monitoring social media, it has a better chance of success than similar bills that have failed in the past.

What do you think about SNOPA?

Copyright © 2012

From → Ovations


    There is far more to this than simply sharing user names and passwords. If you are worried about employers/schools having access to your personal info, you should worry about your own government.

    On April 26, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed CISPA – the Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Protection Act, H.R. 3523 – by a vote of 248-168. CISPA now goes to the Senate.

    That information could end up in the hands of the National Security Agency (NSA), which is notorious for its lack of public accountability. And that data could also be used for purposes completely unrelated to cybersecurity. As one expert wrote, last-minute amendments made the bill far worse:

    CISPA can no longer be called a cybersecurity bill at all. The government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a “cybersecurity crime”. Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all. Moreover, the government could do whatever it wants with the data as long as it can claim that someone was in danger of bodily harm, or that children were somehow threatened—again, notwithstanding absolutely any other law that would normally limit the government’s power.

    A new era of McCarthy-esk witch hunts.


    • It’s sad that people don’t pay more attention to things like this. My ovation should have focused more on Rep. Engel and the fact that he’s actually trying to take action.


    • I agree, Sue, that CISPA is the latest effort “to protect the Internet” at the expense of individual rights. SNOPA seems like it is a move in the right direction for a change. On the other hand, when it comes to Internet privacy, the genie is out of the bottle and not going back in. If you want real privacy on the Internet, unplug your computer.


  2. It’s too bad we even have to pass this law because if people just used common sense, these violations of privacy would not be happening. According to my daughter, these privacy violations go on regularly at her school, and today I learned it doesn’t stop at social networks – now the school demands that kids allow the school administrators full access to their phones so they can search through all that information too. And they are doing all this without even talking to or informing parents about it. I tried to suggest to the principal and supt that they really needed some education on this topic, but they totally dismissed the idea. They don’t think they are doing anything wrong.

    The problem with unplugging from the Internet is that not all of your friends or people in your family are going to do this. So they might continue discussing personal family matters on their social networks, and these discussions might include personal information about you. If the employer or school principal of your friend or relative reads this information, they can end up with access to personal info about you. And if they haven’t demonstrated a respect of privacy in the first place by demanding access what’s to stop them from spreading that information all over town? And what legal recourse do you have now if they do? Hopefully this law will address all of this – I am definitely happy to see something being done.


  3. I have never had someone ask me for this type of personal information even though I am job hunting at the moment. I volunteered a copy of my blog to an IT dept. within the larger corporation where I work because the blog was about someone within their department who had a profound effect on me as far as social networking went. But I did not give them my password, just a copy of a post. They were surprised & pleased to hear I was a blogger. Still haven’t heard about the job though.


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