New State Laws Prohibit Employers and Academic Institutions from Requesting Usernames and Passwords to Monitor Social Media Activity, Creating Complications for Compliance with Federal Securities Regulations


An increasing number of states are passing laws that prohibit employers and academic institutions from requesting or requiring employees, job applicants, students, and prospective students to turn over their social media usernames and passwords. To date, six states have enacted such legislation: California and Michigan laws apply to both employers and academic institutions, while Illinois and Maryland laws apply only to employers and Delaware and New Jersey laws apply only to academic institutions.

Each state defines social media differently, with some states applying the laws to broadly include electronic services, accounts, and content, while others cover only websites that allow specifically for social networking. As a result, employers and academic institutions must review their policies in light of the state law or laws to which they are subject.

In general, these laws prohibit employers and/or academic institutions from...

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