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    Update: California Governor Signs Laws Protecting Students’ Social-Networking Passwords

    To recap: In the past few months, there has been increasing focus on the practice by some employers of requiring job applicants to hand over their passwords or allow access to their private accounts on social-networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace or Google+ in order to gather personal data when the social-networking profiles are closed to the public.

    In April, Maryland became the first state to ban employers from requiring access to the social-media accounts of their employees and job applicants when its General Assembly passed a law concerning the practice. The bill also noted that it did not prevent employers from investigating Web sites or “Web-based accounts” for violations of securities or financial laws or regulatory requirements; nor does the bill prevent businesses from investigating employee misconduct in downloading proprietary data. In May, federal legislation was introduced concerning the issue of employer access to private employee or job applicant data. Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) have introduced the Password Protection Act of 2012 (archive pdf). In August, Illinois passed privacy legislation — HB 3782, now Public Act 097-0875 (pdf) — to bar employers from asking job applicants and employees for passwords to their social-networking sites.

    Now, the Los Angeles Times reports that that California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed new legislation concerning privacy of students’ online data at social-networking sites:

    SACRAMENTO — College students will have free digital access to many textbooks, receive more warning about tuition hikes and have their social media accounts protected from snooping university officials under measures approved by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday.

    The new privacy laws also prohibit employers from asking workers or job applicants for their email or social media account passwords. Fittingly, Brown announced his action on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace.

    Some businesses have started requesting the passwords to check applicants’ backgrounds, and college coaches have asked athletes for access to their Facebook accounts to keep tabs on them. […]

    Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) introduced the measure, SB 1349, noting that students often post personal information, including their religion and sexual orientation, on social networking sites. Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D-San Jose) is author of AB 1844, which applies to employers. All of the bills take effect Jan. 1.

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