Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Maryland statute will prevent employers from asking job candidates and employees for social media passwords

Following up on an earlier story (and here) about employers asking job candidates for their social media passwords as part of the screening process, the Maryland legislature has followed California's lead by passing a bill that would prohibit the practice when it comes to both job candidates and employees. Governor Martin O'Malley, however, must still sign it.

As we noted last time, some commentators call the issue a tempest in a teapot since there are few reported cases of employers who have actually requested passwords from their employees.

From the BNA Electronic Commerce & Law Report (subscription required):

Employers in Maryland would not be allowed to request or require that an employee or job applicant disclose any “user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account or service through an electronic communications device” under S.B. 433/H.B. 964, a measure that cleared both chambers of the General Assembly April 6.

If signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), the law would take effect Oct. 12, 2012.
Under the measure, employers could not discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize an employee for refusing to disclose password information covered by the legislation; nor could they refuse to hire an applicant for such refusal.
The definition of employer would include state and local governments, in addition to persons engaged in “a business, an industry, a profession, a trade, or other enterprise in the state.”
The legislation would make a distinction between an employee's personal accounts and any “nonpersonal accounts or services that provide access to the employer's internal computer or information systems.” For the latter, an employer could require an employee to disclose user names and passwords.
Continue reading here.

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