California passes legislation prohibiting employers from demanding access to personal social media accounts
California has passed legislation prohibiting employers from demanding access to employees' and job applicants' personal social media accounts. The text of the September 27, 2012 press release from the Govenor's office is as follows:
Governor Brown Signs Laws to Protect Privacy for Social Media Users
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today took to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace to announce that he has signed two bills that increase privacy protections for social media users in California.
Assembly Bill 1844 (Campos) and Senate Bill 1349 (Yee) prohibit universities and employers from requiring that applicants give up their email or social media account passwords.
"The Golden State is pioneering the social media revolution and these laws will protect all Californians from unwarranted invasions of their personal social media accounts," said Governor Brown.
Assembly Bill 1844 by Nora Campos (D-San Jose) prohibits employers from demanding user names, passwords or any other information related to social media accounts from employees and job applicants. Employers are banned from discharging or disciplining employees who refuse to divulge such information under the terms of the bill. However, this restriction does not apply to passwords or other information used to access employer-issued electronic devices. The bill further stipulates that nothing in its language is intended to infringe on employers' existing rights and obligations to investigate workplace misconduct.
Proponents of Assembly Bill 1844 say this is a common-sense measure that will bring clarity to a murky area of employment law and stop business practices that impede employment. Senate Bill 1349, which passed without opposition in the Legislature, is designed to stop a growing trend of colleges and universities snooping into student social media accounts, particularly those of student athletes.