Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons has proposed legislation that would prohibit an organization from asking for passwords to social media accounts.
Simons tabled the Social Media Password Protection Act, which amends the Personal Information Protection Act, in the legislature last week.
In addition to the release of passwords to organizations, the legislation would further prohibit organizations asking individuals to sign on to social media accounts in their presence, said Simons.
“Essentially, it says, as much as we can never really guarantee privacy, people shouldn’t have to give passwords away so prospective employers can see personal communications and pictures,” he said.
Simons has personal experience with the issue. When he ran for the leadership of the BC New Democratic Party (NDP) in 2011, party officials asked him to hand over his passwords to his social media accounts. Simons refused. Eventually, the party agreed that he didn’t have to hand them over.
The act reaffirms an individual’s right to protect his or her own privacy, as well as the privacy of those with whom they have had communication, Simons said. Regulations haven’t caught up to all the changes in the way people communicate, he added. “Accepted practices haven’t really been established,” he said. “Facebook doesn’t want its users to share passwords, B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner thinks it shouldn’t be done as well. My bill says, you’re not allowed to. It makes it clear.”
Although private member’s bills are never passed, Simons said, if the NDP forms government after the May provincial election, he expects there will be a form of personal privacy protection.
“It wouldn’t necessarily be this particular act that we would pass, because I didn’t have any lawyers helping me with it, so there might be loopholes in it,” he said. “I think it reflects the position we have in terms of social media privacy.”