We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
79,818 News Articles

New laws keep employers out of worker social media accounts

Employers in Illinois and California are now barred from asking for usernames and passwords for social media pages of workers, job seekers

Employers in Illinois and California cannot ask for usernames and passwords to the personal social media accounts of employees and job seekers under laws that took effect on Jan. 1.

Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn in August signed legislation amending the State's 'Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act.'

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation adding the prohibitions to the State's Labor Code in September.

The two states join Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey and Delaware in implementing such privacy laws.

The state laws were prompted by privacy and worker advocates concerned that some employers were asking job seekers and employees for access to their personal social media accounts as a condition of hiring and employment.

Maryland's law, for instance, was passed after a controversial incident where a sate Division of Corrections worker was asked to provide his Facebook login credentials during a recertification interview.

Similarly, Michigan's law came after an elementary school teacher's aide was fired for refusing to provide school authorities access to her Facebook profile. The request came after a parent complained about seeing what they called an inappropriate photo on the social media site.

In a report issued last year, the Council of State Governments said it had received several reports of people being asked to delete their social media accounts, 'friend' the human resources director and/or supply private login credentials to employers.

The new Illinois law explicitly bans such employer requests, even for jobs that require comprehensive background screening.

The law does, however, allow employers to review publicly available social media information and to monitor employee email and data stored on company computers.

California's law prohibits employers from asking workers for access to social media accounts containing "videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations."

The law prohibits employers from terminating employees or otherwise retaliating against them for failing to give up passwords or other information used to access personal social media accounts.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan, or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

Read more about it careers in Computerworld's IT Careers Topic Center.


IDG UK Sites

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 release date, price and specs UK: Is this the actual Note 4 - video

IDG UK Sites

How Apple, Adobe, Microsoft and others have let us down over UltraHD and hiDPI screens

IDG UK Sites

How Ford designs next-generation cars at its Melbourne Design Centre

IDG UK Sites

iPhone 6 release date, rumours, video, UK price & images: iPhone launch event confirmed for 9...