Yesterday, Maryland became the first state to pass legislation banning employers from asking employees or job applicants to provide their passwords to social media sites. The legislation also prohibits employers from taking, or threatening to take, disciplinary action on employees or applicants who refuse to disclose such information. The bill now has to be signed into law by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.
The Maryland legislation was spurred by an incident in which, during a recertification interview, a Director of Corrections officer reportedly was asked to provide his Facebook account information so that his interviewer could log into his account and review activity.
Beyond Maryland, this issue has gained widespread attention recently at both the federal and state law, as we’ve written previously. Lawmakers in multiple other states, including Washington, New Jersey, California, Illinois, and Colorado have introduced, or indicated they plan to introduce, similar legislation. Additionally, Senators Charles Schumer (NY) and Richard Blumenthal (CT) have asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Justice to investigate whether employers violate any privacy, fraud, or anti-discrimination laws by demanding access to job applicants’ social networking accounts for hiring purposes.