OLYMPIA – The state House voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to approve a compromise version of a bill aimed at prohibiting businesses from asking job applicants and employees for passwords to social networking sites like Facebook.
The bill, which has been hotly debated this legislative session, is one of dozens of efforts taking place in legislatures across the country to address an emerging issue.
“We have a clear problem, but we do have a solution,” said Everett Democrat Mike Sells, who chairs the House Labor & Workforce Development Committee.
The compromise version, negotiated between business groups and civil libertarians, would protect applicants and employees from being forced to disclose log-in information, change viewer settings, “friend” their bosses or otherwise allow employers to see their accounts.
It would, however, not stop businesses from asking to look at employee accounts as part of a specific set of investigations, including to see if the employee gave out proprietary information.
“This amendment has accomplished the impossible (in finding middle ground),” said state Rep. Jeff Holy, R-Cheney.
A version of that provision caused an uproar.
Senate sponsor Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, approves of the compromise, according to a spokesman, signalling it could get through the upper chamber.
Wednesday is — theoretically — the last day for non-budget-related bills to pass out of both chambers of the Legislature.
That rule is sometimes skirted if the bill is deemed crucial for a final budget deal. But it is an important marker in the session, which is scheduled to end April 28.