Password Protected - Proposed Social Media Privacy Legislation

[authors: Rebecca Hirschklau and James Hays]

The job market appears to be on an upswing, and with this upswing, and the advent of new technology, comes new challenges for employers and applicants alike. Potential employees may have online identities that many employers deem useful when investigating a job applicant. However, privacy settings on many social media sites allow an applicant to hide his/her online persona from these potential employers. As a result, a new trend in applicant background investigating has surfaced: asking an applicant for his/her username and password to social media sites during the interview process.

In light of this recent trend, a handful of states have drafted legislation seeking to outlaw what some consider to be an invasion of privacy. Lawmakers in Illinois, Maryland, and California have proposed legislation that would prohibit employers from requiring that current or prospective employees provide or disclose any user names, passwords, or other ways of accessing a personal online account. State lawmakers from Connecticut and New Jersey are considering drafting similar legislation, as is the United States Senate.

We will continue to monitor these developments and provide updates as these draft amendments work their way through the legislative process, and as new proposed amendments are introduced.

 

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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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