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<!–:en–>CALIFORNIA BILL LOOKING AT PROHIBITING EMPLOYERS ASKING APPLICANTS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA PASSWORDS<!–:–>

April 9, 2012

Workers, job applicants, students, and higher education institution applicants in California would not have to accede to employer or school official demands that they turn over their social media passwords under a bill, S. 1349, reintroduced March 27 in the California Senate.

The bill started life as a measure to require child abuse reporting by schools when it was first introduced Feb. 24 by Sen. Leland Yee (D). Yee subsequently amended the bill to substitute its new focus as the “Social Media Privacy Act.”

“It is completely unacceptable for an employer to invade someone’s personal social media accounts,” Yee said in a March 27 statement. “Not only is it entirely unnecessary, it is an invasion of privacy and unrelated to one’s work performance or abilities.”

The bill’s roots as a bill focused on the education sector are demonstrated in its inclusion not only of a ban on workplace-related requests for social media passwords but also post-secondary school requests to students for their passwords.

The bill would prohibit employers and school officials from demanding, or requesting in writing, that covered individuals turn over social media user names or account passwords.

In addition, the proposed law would ban employers and school officials from forcing a covered individual to “otherwise provide the institution or employer with access to any content of that account,” such as by forcing the individual to log on to an account which the employer or school official could then review.

Meanwhile, bills to restrict employer access to social media accounts are pending in Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, and New York.

At the federal level, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), have called on the Department of Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate the legality of employer requests for passwords. 04.09.2012