Recently, the media reported that House Resolution 3309 was debated in the House that would prevent employers from asking prospective or current employees for their social network passwords as a condition of employment. Or did it?
When I heard the bill was voted down (later amended and passed) along party lines, I was furious with House Republicans. One of the few roles of government is protecting Americans from entities that would infringe upon our rights, and this certainly qualifies.
No one would be OK if an employer said, “I need keys to your house so we can have a forensics team go through it before we hire you.” So why are they allowed to see online private information?
While I enjoy networking, I have my account hidden from the public eye. I love sharing views and making new friends, but I choose whom to share that with. Prospective employers are not included.
If I wanted a technical job at the left-leaning NBC network, for instance, I certainly wouldn’t want them knowing I’m a libertarian who is big on gun rights, limited government, and entitlement reform. Since I wouldn’t be in front of the camera, my opinion shouldn’t matter. But I know their views are quite the opposite and would sooner kill a bunny rabbit than hire a conservative.
I have written previously about the importance of skepticism. Don’t presume to know everything just because your favorite news agency told you “all about it.” Do your research from as many outlets available to you and inform yourself.
Practicing what I preach, I found the amendment and read it. Please read here.
(2015 Update: The next session of Congress passed HR 537, which did prevent this practice here.)
Now after reading that, do you see anything in there that prevents someone from asking for your private information? I don’t either. It was an amendment which merely allowed for a law to be passed preventing the practice as opposed to actually preventing it directly. The fact that there was no reason such a law would be prohibited in the first place, made the amendment redundant and moot. Such redundancy leads me to believe that the only purpose by Democrats was solely to slow up a Republican bill the Democrats didn’t care for. Worse yet, it was for a bill to reform the FCC, which has little to do with most private business practices anyway.
Why did Republicans vote it down? Because it didn’t accomplish what the legislators that wrote it proposed it would. So my apologies to those Republicans I cussed out under my breath when I first read the story. Carry on good sirs.
So why did it exist and what was its purpose then? I can’t know with complete certainty what Democrats were thinking. But this appears to be an attempt to make Republicans look bad by writing legislation that presents their opponents with a catch-22.
They propose a law and declare it serves a certain purpose, but when opponents actually read it and see that it doesn’t, they vote no accordingly. This then allows Democrats to say, “Those evil Republicans don’t care about you, and this is proof!”
Both parties propose catch-22 legislation which they know won’t pass for political purposes. It’s a deplorable waste of our money and certainly not the work of people who “serve” their constituents. Sadly, there are countless examples, all of which should be offensive to every American since we’re paying for this nonsense.
Let me propose a hyperbolic theoretical question to illustrate my point. Imagine Congress proposed a bill that would legalize cures for 90% of all deadly diseases, but it required the execution of homeless people. Would you approve it?
If you say no, these opponents would say you voted down a bill that cures 90% of all deadly diseases. If you OK it, they would say you’re killing homeless people. Either way, you are made to look bad, which was the only goal of your opponents in the first place.
This is the problem with bills that have unrelated multiple components. If Democrats had really wanted the privacy violating practice to stop, it would have been a stand-alone bill that simply read:
“No employer shall ask or require a prospective or current employee to allow that employer access to private online content, including but not limited to social networking sites as a condition of future employment.”
Such a bill would likely have easily passed. I know that single-sentence plain English legislation is rare, but it worked pretty well in our Constitution where each provision was largely straightforward and simple. My apologies to compliance lawyers who would need to repurpose their lives as a result, but maybe we should get back to that model.
Since Congress can’t seem to play nice, I propose the Legislation Reform Act:
No proposed legislation may contain multiple provisions that do not directly pertain to each other in a way that dictates one could not exist without the other. Any non-related provision must be proposed, written, and voted on as a separate and individual piece of legislation.
This simple proposal would end any attempts at attaching bad legislation to good legislation just for political gain. Earmarks and other such nonsense would fall victim to it as well.
It would ensure that all proposals are simple and effective in their design and that each piece be voted on based on its individual merits as opposed to the collective merit of countless unrelated parts as is currently done.