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

Illinois Prohibits Employers from Requesting Employees’ Social Networking Passwords

Posted in Social Media, State Legislatures, United States

On August 1, Illinois became the second state in the country to prohibit employers from requesting or requiring employees to provide their passwords for social networking accounts.  As reported in this blog, Maryland adopted similar legislation in April.  The bill (HB 3782) was signed into law by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and will become effective on January 1, 2013. 

The legislation amends the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to make unlawful an employer’s request or requirement that an employee or prospective employee provide “any password or other related account information in order to gain access to the employee’s or prospective employee’s account or profile on a social networking website….”  The term “social networking website” means an Internet-based service that allows individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, created by the service; (2) create a list of other users with whom they share a connection within the system; and (3) view and navigate their list of connections and those made by others within the system.  The legislation makes clear that emails are not included in the term “social networking website.” 

Legislation to prohibit employer access to employee social networking information currently is being considered in several states, including Washington, New Jersey, California, and Colorado.