To recap: In the last year, 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). That legislation was not passed in the congressional session that recently ended.
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. In October, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed legislation to protect the privacy of students’ online data at social-networking sites.
Recently, there have been more moves by states to protect the privacy of individuals’ social-networking passwords. Wired reports that there are now six states with such laws: “California’s and Illinois’ laws took force Tuesday, the first day of the year. Michigan’s and New Jersey’s became active last month and Maryland’s, in October. Delaware’s measure became law in July.”