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updated 3/14/2011 2:14:10 PM ET 2011-03-14T18:14:10

Do you think your boss should have access to your Facebook account? A Maryland man doesn’t, and he has enlisted the help of the American Civil Liberties Union to back him up.

The ACLU has filed a letter with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services objecting to what it called the agency’s “frightening and illegal invasion of privacy” after corrections officer Robert Collins was forced to hand over his Facebook user name and password as part of a job application process.

Last July, following a four-month medical leave of absence, Collins applied to be reinstated to the post he had held for more than three years. In addition to the customary background check and fingerprinting, Collins was asked to hand over his Facebook password and user name and was made to watch while a Department of Corrections officer logged on to Collins’ account.

All prospective Maryland DOC employees are required to provide their social media account information, according to the ACLU. The ACLU’s letter called the DOC policy unjustified as well as illegal under the Stored Communications Act, which it said prohibits employers from accessing private electronic communications without valid authorization.

In a video posted on the ACLU website, Collins expressed his indignation over being made to open his private online life to scrutiny by a potential employer.

“Here I am, a U.S. citizen who hasn’t broken any laws, who hasn’t committed any crimes, and I had an employer looking at my personal communications, my personal posts, my personal pictures, looking at my personal identifiable information, where my religious beliefs, my political beliefs, my sexuality -- all of these things are possibly disclosed on this page. It’s an absolute total invasion and overreach and overstep on their part,” Collins said.

The Maryland DOC has yet to respond to the ACLU’s letter.

 

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