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California Moves to Protect Privacy of Social Media Accounts

01 October 2012

California Moves to Protect Privacy of Social Media AccountsCalifornia has become the latest state to pass a law prohibiting employers from requesting access to employees’ and job applicants’ social media information or accounts. 

Under AB 1844, which was signed last week by Governor Jerry Brown, an employer may not “require or request an employee or applicant for employment” to disclose social media login credentials, access social media in the presence of the employer, or divulge social media information except in connection with investigations of employee misconduct or violation of law. The law does not bar employers from requesting or requiring the disclosure of login credentials for accessing “an employer-issued electronic device,” which presumably is intended to preserve employers’ rights with respect to electronic equipment or company-owned social media accounts. 

In addition to AB 1844, which regulates employer access to social media, the Governor also signed into law SB 1349, which imposes similar restrictions on universities and bars them from demanding social media login credentials or information from students, prospective students, or student groups. 

California’s employee social media privacy law is similar to legislation recently approved in Illinois and Maryland, while Delaware has passed a law protecting students’ social media accounts. Social media privacy bills are under consideration in a number of other states, including New York, Michigan, and Minnesota.  

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