Social Media Passwords Protected From Prying Employers In Six States

It is now illegal in six U.S. states for employers to ask job applicants for the passwords to their social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.

Be careful using social media at work

Be careful using social media.

California and Illinois recently joined four other states barring employers from demanding that employees divulge their social-media passwords.

Passed during 2012, California’s and Illinois’ laws became effective January 1, 2013. Michigan’s and New Jersey’s took effect in December 2012, Maryland’s, in October 2012 while Delaware enacted its law in July 2012.

The laws are a direct response to nationwide reports of employers demanding access to employees’ or potential employees’ personal, non-public account information on Facebook, Twitter and other social-media.

Facebook said in March that complaints about employers demanding “inappropriate access” to Facebook accounts were increasing.

A federal measure banning employers from asking for social media passwords, Password Protection Act of 2012, failed in Congress.

States Enact Social Media Laws

Illinois became the first state to pass a password privacy law.

“We’re dealing with 21st-century issues,” said Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn as he signed that state’s password law. “Privacy is a fundamental right. I believe that and I think we need to fight for that.”

California, the nation’s largest state, soon followed passing its with own password law.

State Assemblywoman Nora Campos sponsored California’s law. When the measure, AB 1844, passed the California Assembly unanimously in May 2012, Campos said it would protect Californian’s workers from prying employers.

“Our social-media accounts offer views into our personal lives and expose information that would be inappropriate to discuss during a job interview due to the inherent risk of creating biases in the minds of employers,” Campos said in a statement. “In order to continue to minimize the threat of bias and discrimination in the workplace and the hiring process, California must continue to evolve its privacy protections to keep pace with advancing technology.”

None of the state laws prohibit employers from looking at public information posted in public areas on social media.

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