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Inside Privacy Updates on Developments in Global Privacy & Data Security from Covington & Burling LLP

Maryland and Illinois Introduce Bills to Limit Employer Access to Employees’ Social Networking Accounts

Posted in Social Media, State Legislatures, United States

Lawmakers in Maryland and Illinois have introduced bills that would prohibit employers from requiring job applicants or employees to grant access to their social networking accounts.  The bills arose from reports that employers have impliedly or explicitly required access to social networking accounts as a condition of hiring or employment.

A few bills have been proposed in Maryland that would protect the privacy of individuals’ social networking accounts.  Bills in the House and Senate have been introduced that would restrict all employers’ access to employee and job applicant accounts.  Two separate bills have also been introduced that would prevent university officials from accessing student accounts.

In Illinois, similar legislation has been introduced that would make it illegal for an employer to request access to an employee’s or job applicant’s account.  The legislation has bipartisan support.

In both states, lawmakers who back the bills believe that because of the pressure exerted on job applicants and employees to comply with requests for access to social networking accounts, these individuals have no real choice but to grant it.  To the lawmakers, this constitutes a violation of privacy.