Friday, February 8, 2013

Congress considers limiting employer and school access to social media passwords

Several states have already passed legislation prohibiting employers and schools from asking for social media passwords and now a bill has been introduced in Congress that would provide similar protection at the federal level. The Social Networking Online Protection Act ("SNOPA") would impose a civil fine of up to $10,000 and authorize the Secretary of Labor to seek injunctive relief against any employer or school who asks an applicant, employee or student for social media password information in violation of the statute. The BNA Electronic Commerce and Law Report has a brief summary here (subscription required) or you can check out the bill itself here.

Three members of Congress Feb. 6 reintroduced the Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA), which would limit employer and school access to the login credentials of personal social media accounts of employees, job applicants, and current or prospective students.

SNOPA (bill number not yet available), filed by Reps. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), Janice D. Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Michael G. Grimm (R-N.Y.), died last year in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

In a statement announcing the bill, Engel said SNOPA was vital to preventing employer or school requests for personal accounts from becoming routine.

“The lack of clarity in the law puts individuals in a position where they either have to give up vital, private information, or risk losing their job, potential job, or enrollment in school and involvement in the school's sports programs,” he said. “Frankly, when there are no laws prohibiting institutions from requiring this information, it becomes a common practice.”


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