by Art Gutman Ph.D., Professor, Florida Institute of Technology

SNOPA was originally filed in April 2012 and died in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. It was reintroduced on February 6, 2013 by the same actors as last year (Representatives Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), Janice D. Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Michael G. Grimm (R-N.Y.), SNOPA is designed to prevent employers from requesting information on applicants and employees for personal account information (e.g., passwords). It would also prevent schools from obtaining such information about students and prospective students. According to Representative Engel, “The lack of clarity in the law puts individuals in a position where they either have to give up vital, private information, or risk losing their job, potential job, or enrollment in school and involvement in the school's sports programs.” He also said “Frankly, when there are no laws prohibiting institutions from requiring this information, it becomes a common practice.” The bill would allow the DOL to issue fines up to $10,000 and bring action in federal court for injunctive relief.

A major factors favoring passage this time is that states that enacted SNOPA-like laws since SNOPA died last year. Additionally, there are 13 other states with SNOPA-like bills under consideration.

According to Representative Schakowsky, “Asking for someone's password is like asking for a key to their home.” She also said “Privacy is a basic right that all Americans share, and one that we should act to protect; this legislation sets boundaries.”

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