These States Protect Employees’ Right to Password Privacy
You go home, you remove your shoes, pour a glass of wine, and log on to social media sites to catch up with the latest news from your friends and to look at cat pictures. The next morning, your boss wants your social media passwords.
(Photo Credit: marc falardeau/Flickr)
Some employers argue that they need employee passwords for social media sites to protect their own private information, such as trade secrets. Whose privacy is worth protecting is currently left up for each of the states to decide. Some states have enacted legislation to protect workers’ (and sometimes students’) social media login information.
In the year 2012, six of the 50 states enacted legislation to protect workers’ rights to not be required to divulge their social meda passwords. California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and New Jersey all passed laws prohibiting employers from requiring access to social networks.
California and Delaware also have legislation signed by their governors prohibiting private and public academic institutions from requesting or requiring student and student applicant social media login information. California includes the language “student group”; for example, the Catholic Student Union at X University in California should not be asked for their group’s Facebook page login information.
Nine more states joined the party and enacted legislation to protect worker (and sometimes student) rights in 2013: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
Some states considered laws to protect employee online privacy, but didn’t pass the legislation. If you consider your free time your own, and you like to spend your free time on social media, you may wish to consider not living in the following states: Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Texas, and West Virginia.
In Mississippi, the potential legislation died in committee. It never got to a vote.
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Beth Taylor has a background in theater arts, education and psychology. She started writing the Undercover Waitress blog in 2011 to help educate and empower non-union women in the labor force. She originally joined the PayScale blogging team in 2013. Since earning her master's degree in clinical psychology in 2015, she works full-time as a clinician performing psychological evaluations and offering therapy services. She continues to write about psychology and behavior at work.