03/22/2012 10:33 am ET

Virginia Probes Social Media Activity Of State Trooper Applicants

WASHINGTON -- Prospective Virginia state troopers must give employment background screeners access to their social media accounts in order to be considered for jobs.

That's according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which reports:

Applicants are not required to provide usernames or passwords, but they must log in to their social networking sites and allow a state police background investigator to review the contents.

The American Civil Liberties Union called the practice "deplorable."

The news about the job-screening practice in Virginia comes as similar social media vetting in other states have come into question.

In Maryland, Department of Corrections Officer Robert Collins had to provide his Facebook login and password as part of a recertification process. He contacted the ACLU in late 2011 about the practice.

After a public outcry, the department suspended its practice in late February so it could reassess its policies, according to The Atlantic.

As the Associated Press reported this week, the practice is becoming more common with employers "going beyond merely glancing at a person's social networking profiles and instead asking to log in as the user to have a look around."

The practice raises major privacy concerns.

"It's akin to requiring someone's house keys," Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor, told the AP, saying it's "an egregious privacy violation."