Varied Facebook Password Laws Could Plague Employers

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Originally published in Law360, New York on August 02, 2012.

Illinois on Wednesday became the second state to enact a law banning employers from requesting passwords for Facebook and other social media accounts from employees and job applicants, reflecting a growing trend that attorneys say may lead to a patchwork of state laws that will create headaches for national employers.

The Illinois statute signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Pat Quinn, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2013, bars employers from demanding passwords or otherwise accessing the nonpublic portions of workers' social media profiles. It does, however, allow employers to view information that is not shielded by the owner with a privacy setting and does not prohibit employers from maintaining policies that govern their employees’ access to social networking websites while at work.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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