Texas Leg Watch 2013: Banning Employers From Demanding Social Media Passwords Bill To Hit House Floor Tomorrow

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As part of our continuing coverage of the Texas Legislature Watch (they only meet every other year in Texas), we look at the bill that would prohibit employers from demanding passwords or other access to the social media accounts of employees and prospective employees.  It goes to the House floor tomorrow.

As we originally reported, on December 21, 2012, HB 318 was prefiled and the senate considered the similar SB 118.  You can read my original post for the original version of the bill and my original comments. 

Now that it is through committee, the bill specifically excludes those in the “financial industry.”  It also includes an exception for employers to investigate wrongdoing.  Specifically, it now states:

(c) An employer may access a personal account of an employee if the employer holds a reasonable belief that the employee has violated:

(1) state or federal law, including a federal regulation or any regulatory policy or guidance issued by a federal agency; or

(2) an employment policy of the employer, including a policy governing:

(A) employee usage of an electronic communication device for work-related communications;

(B) the storage of potentially sensitive, nonpublic consumer information or of employer proprietary information;

(C) employee cooperation in a workplace investigation; or

(D) the safety and security of employees and customers of the employer.

While addressing two of the issues we spotted with the original bill, it still does not apply to college or other students.  It also does not provide any immunity for employers for failing to investigate social media profiles.

As explained in this article by Jessica Mendelson of Seyfarth Shaw, Texas looks to join the states of Utah, New Mexico and Arkansas that recently passed similar laws.