Monday, March 26, 2012

Senators Schumer and Blumenthal Move to Protect Privacy

Liz Klimas gives a shout-out to Senators Charles Schumer and Richard Blumenthal for proposing legislation that would ban employers from demanding passwords to the confidential, user-only sections of prospective employees' Facebook pages. Or, presumably, their Blogspot, LiveJournal, Yahoo, or other pages:

Let's be clear: If you publish information about yourself online, you've relinquished all claims that the information is private, just as if you'd published it in a book or newspaper. However, the private pages you use to transact business online are not available to the public and shouldn't be made available to an employer.

The viable concern is not that employers will find out that someone has publicized some potentially hostility-generating bit of information, like "I'm Jewish." If you blog or Facebook about that, it's no secret any more. And if you don't actually post the words "I'm Jewish," but your screen name and those of three-quarters of your e-contacts sound Jewish, and an employer happens to hate all things Jewish...well, you probably would have blurted out something that would have set him off anyway, and you're probably better off without that job.

The viable concern is that employers will gain access to your online use of money...and if you're one of the suckers who pay all your bills online, and you happen to work with a mean and dishonest person, there goes your bank account and all your utilities. When my husband's ex-vampire wanted to sabotage my business, she had to do it the oldfashioned way, spend lots of time and money, involve lots of people who owed her favors, and pretend to be me in person. If you happen to work with a vampire, and your employer has access to your online business, the vampire will have access to that business too. What took the vampire in my life months and thousands of dollars, the vampire in your life will be able to do in an hour or two, from the office.

So, this web site officially commends Senators Schumer and Blumenthal, and congratulates their constituents. But it's still a good idea, not only to keep your real-world business transactions private, but to keep them off the Internet. If your electricity is provided by a company that has a stack of paper documents to the effect that you never pay bills online, and a vampire decides to attack your business by cutting off your electricity, the fact that the request arrives by e-mail will be a tip-off that the company should double-check with you before touching your account.