8/7/2012 Illinois Bans Employer Requests for Social Media Passwords

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On August 1, Illinois became the second state (Maryland was the first) to ban employers from asking for login and password information to access social networking accounts. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013, and bans requests for log-ins and passwords during background checks and throughout employment. The law, signed by Governor Pat Quinn last week, amends the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act.

This legislation bans a practice that, with a couple of exceptions, is not actually in practice. A few well-publicized incidents of prospective employers asking for passwords prompted a wide-spread outcry by—well, by pretty much everyone.  As we have opined countless times–asking for passwords is a bad practice. The consensus is that employees and job applicants have a right to keep their private social media secrets under wraps.

The law is one that most people can applaud, feeling good that “the man” can’t get behind their privacy wall and see those pictures from last weekend. Of course, anything not privacy-protected is still fair game for employers (warning: use at your own risk). Guilty employers who violate the new law are subject to a whopping fine of between $100 and $300.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said “Members of the workforce should not be punished for information their employers don’t legally have the right to have,” in a prepared statement. Amen.

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