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Assembly approves ban on employers asking job applicants for Facebook password

Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio

Employers would be banned from asking job applicants for their Facebook or email passwords under a measure that passed the state Assembly Tuesday.

The protection would also prevent colleges from asking prospective students for their passwords and landlords from asking the same of their tenants. Though the focus is on Facebook, it would extend to all social media sites and to email.

The plan has its limitations, though. Sponsor Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, says it would not prevent an employer, school or landlord from looking at anything someone posts publicly on social media.

“This bill will not protect you against making a silly mistake,” says Sargent. “This really has to do with the back end, not the public side. So it's your login and password, and what it is that you see on your social media accounts when you have that login and password.”

The measure has broad bipartisan support in the legislature. It has sponsors from both parties and passed the Assembly today on a voice vote. Because lawmakers there made a slight change to the plan, it now heads back to the state Senate where a similar version passed last year on a unanimous vote.

Gov. Scott Walker has indicated he will sign it.