Most job applicants know employers are not allowed to ask their age; if they are married; have children; or about their religious beliefs. But what about an employer who asks for your Facebook password?

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and several other Democrats, want to make sure it’s  illegal for employers to coerce job applicants or current employees to provide access to online social media networks, including Facebook, and private e-mail accounts.

Last month, Blumenthal and Chuck Schumer of New York asked the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate whether requesting Facebook passwords violates existing laws that protect online privacy.

The Password Protection Act, introduced by Blumenthal, Schumer and Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., would make it clear that those practices are illegal and would levy a $10,000 fine on employers if they violate their employees’ right to online privacy.

Blumenthal said forcing people to reveal their passwords is “absolutely repugnant and reprehensible.”

“This trend really goes against the fundamental values of privacy that are so deeply engrained in our way of life and our Constitution,” he said.

Password privacy became an issue earlier this year because the Associated Press reported some employers have demanded passwords from prospective employees to check for potentially embarrassing information.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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