Six states have officially made it illegal for employers to ask their workers for passwords to their social media accounts, reports CNET.com. As of 2013, California and Illinois have joined the ranks of Michigan, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware in passing state laws against the practice, according to Wired.
With Congress not being able to come to agreement on the Password Protection Act of 2012, individual states have taken the law into their own hands. Both California and Illinois agreed on password protection laws in 2012, but the laws didn’t go into effect until yesterday.
The laws are designed to prohibit employers from requiring an employee or job applicant to provide their username and password for social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Assemblymember Nora Campos, who authored the California bill, called the law a “preemptive measure” that will offer guidelines to the accessibility of private information behind what she calls the “social media wall.”
It’s unclear how many employers have actually demanded access to workers’ online accounts, but some cases have surfaced publicly and inspired lively debate over the past year. In one instance last April, a teacher’s aide in Michigan was suspended after refusing to provide access to her Facebook account following complaints over a picture she posted.
According to Campos’ office, more than 100 cases before the National Labor Relations Board in September involved employer workplace policies around social media. Facebook has also said it has experienced an increase in reports of employers seeking to gain “inappropriate access” to people’s Facebook profiles or private information this past year.
While these six states now ban employer snooping on private information, all public information posted on social media accounts is still fair game.