Saturday, March 05, 2011

BC NDP demanding social media login credentials

In the last week, there have been reports that the British Columbia New Democratic Party has been demanding the social media login credentials from candidates for the leadership of the party (see: B.C. NDP candidate in social-media standoff with party bosses - The Globe and Mail). All of the candidates have provided this info, except for one who -- quite rightly -- challenges this an an invasion of privacy.

We've heard in the past about employers asking for this sort of information and then backing off when facing a fire-storm of criticism. I can appreciate that the party is hoping to avoid any surprises, but this, in my view, seriously crosses the line. People use their Facebook accounts not only as a trove of embarrassing photos and journals of indiscretions, but also as a primary means of communicating with friends and family. I have close friends who I exclusively communicate with via Facebook. Would it be reasonable for an employer or a political party to ask for my GMail login? Phone records? All my photo albums? My journals? Crappy poetry written in high school (for the record: that was hypothetical; I wrote no poetry in high school)? The notes my mother left me in my lunchbox?

Come on, people. Just because it's easy and just because some people relent and hand it over, does not make it reasonable. It is not reasonable to ask and it is not reasonable to provide it.

It should also be noted that handing over your Facebook login credentials is a violation of the site's terms of use, which could not be more clear:

4.8 You will not share your password, (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner of BC is on the case and it will be interesting to see what she concludes.

My personal conclusion: any political party that demands this sort of information doesn't care at all about privacy and doesn't deserve to govern. Any candidate who acquiesces to this doesn't deserve to be elected.

1 comment:

gL said...

I recall a similar controversy in the USA with the Maryland Division of Corrections demanding logins from staff as a requirement for continued employment.

One must wonder, is it the intangible, casual nature of electronic communications that somehow makes some perceive it acceptable to share read/write access to these communications? After all, I doubt many would easily agree to giving their employer a spare key to their home or a wiretap on their telephone.