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Employers who are asking their workers for Facebook passwords are exposing themselves to “unanticipated legal liability,” Facebook’s chief privacy officer Erin Egan said today.Employers might not be trained in such a way to handle that private information, which could open them up to legal action on claims of discrimination and other privacy-related snafus, Egan said.
“For example, if an employer sees on Facebook that someone is a member of a protected group (e.g. over a certain age, etc.) that employer may open themselves up to claims of discrimination if they don’t hire that person,” Egan said.
In addition, if the employer accesses that information, they are also responsible for protecting that information — which also carries with it certain legal responsibilities employers might not be aware of.
Egan said Facebook is prepared to take some kind of action to protect its users’ information — though it wouldn’t specify what kind of action the social network would take:
Facebook takes your privacy seriously. We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges.