The Week in Tech Policy: Oct. 1st Edition – California Bans Employers from Asking for Facebook Passwords & a New Privacy Bill Introduced in Congress

In this edition of The Week in Tech Policy, we have stories on California banning employers and universities from asking for Facebook and social media information from employees and students, new Internet radio legislation and a new privacy bill that would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before gaining access to Americans’ e-mail and cell phone data.

California bans employers from asking for Facebook passwords. “California Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills into law on (Sept. 27) that would block universities and employers from requiring that applicants hand over their passwords for email, Facebook and other social media accounts,” Hillicon Valley reports. One bill would ban employers from demanding social media account information from employees and job applicants while the other bill would ban universities from doing the same to current and prospective students as well as student groups.

Internet radio legislation surfaces in Congress. House and Senate lawmakers introduced legislation on Sept. 21 that “supporters say would level the playing field for Internet radio stations by allowing them to use the same standard for determining the rates they must pay performers for playing their music as other digital music providers,” The National Journal’s Tech Daily Dose blog reports. On Sept. 26, Tech Daily Dose reported that Internet radio company Pandora took to the Internet airwaves to support the bill.

Microsoft puts forth plan for addressing shortage of skilled workers. On Sept. 27, Microsoft unveiled a proposal that outlines steps that the U.S can take to address the critical shortage of skilled workers, citing over 6,000 open positions – including more than 3,400 in engineering, research and development – that the company is seeking to fill today as one example of the problem. The recommendations focus on changes to STEM education – especially computer science – on both high schools and universities. To help pay for the changes, while also filling the near term gaps, the recommendations include proposals to high-skilled immigration. Microsoft offered what this Sept. 27 Seattle Times story called a “twofer solution — charging employers millions of dollars for the right to hire more foreigners and using the money for training to eventually fill those jobs with Americans.” You can find out more about the shortage of high-skilled workers and Microsoft’s proposal in this Sept. 27 post on Microsoft on the Issues.

Privacy bill would require warrants for e-mail and cell phone surveillance. According to CNET’s Politics and Law blog, a new bill introduced in Congress “would generally require law enforcement officials to obtain a search warrant signed by a judge before they can access cloud data or location information.” The bill was introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and would require law enforcement officials to “get warrants to access Americans’ e-mail and track their cell phones”.

White House Council on Women and Girls launches app challenge. “Building on President Obama’s challenge at the UN General Assembly in September 2011, the United States will be working with various country partners in a new international effort – the Equal Futures Partnership – to break down barriers to women’s political participation and economic empowerment. The goal of the Equal Futures Partnership is for each member country to expand opportunities for women and girls to fully participate in public life and to drive more inclusive economic growth,” according to the White House blog. As part of that effort, the White House Council on Women and Girls has launched an app challenge that asks participants to create “an app that promotes civic education and/or inspires girls to serve as leaders in our democracy.”

CollegeBoard: Only 43 percent of college-bound seniors ready for college. The SAT Report on College & Career Readiness released today revealed that only 43 percent of SAT takers in the class of 2012 graduated from high school with the level of academic preparedness associated with a high likelihood of college success, according to this press release on’s press site. The results prompted CollegeBoard president Gaston Caperton to call for increased rigor in American classrooms.

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