Hearing held for social media privacy bill - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Hearing held for social media privacy bill

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By: Bill Schammert

With most social media web sites, there is an expectation of privacy.  You are able to determine who can and cannot see personal information, pictures and so forth.  But now, some employers are asking you to give up your passwords.  One senator is trying to prevent that from happening.

"We have to be very careful about how the space and dignity of people are invaded," Sen. Tyson Larson of O'Neill said. 

Larson introduced the Workplace Privacy Act.  Simply put, the bill would make it illegal for an employer to require an applicant or employee to give his or her private social media information or passwords away.

During Monday's hearing, the Police Chief's Association and Department of Corrections took a stand against the bill, saying their applicants and officers should be held to a higher standard.

The Nebraska State Education Association and the ACLU spoke in favor of the Workplace Privacy Act.

"You're basically letting the employer find out all sorts of information, that if they asked directly, would be a violation of the Anti-Discrimination Act," ACLU attorney, Alan Peterson, said.

The hour-and-a-half long hearing included numerous testimonies from both sides, but when all was said and done, it seemed there were more questions than answers.

"What if you found out a guy beat his wife on there, or could've found out, but didn't look?" Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha asked.

The hearing took place in front of the Business and Labor Committee, which includes Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers.

"A person can walk around naked, but if the shades are up, is there an expectation of privacy?" he asked.

"When you sign that contract through a social media company, you're saying, 'I have the ability to but those blinds down,'" Sen. Larson responded.

And that seems to be the key remaining question, who controls the blinds when social media companies already sell your information to third parties?

Sen. Larson says he will continue to look over the bill and possibly make some amendments before it is brought up again.

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