Illinois Bans Requests for Social Media Passwords

Angela Preston

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.

Angela Preston
Follow Me

Angela Preston

Vice President of Compliance & General Counsel at EmployeeScreenIQ
Angela Preston has more than 20 years as a licensed attorney and over 10 years in the background screening area. She serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), is a member of the NAPBS Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC), and is actively involved in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and ASIS International. Angela is also a member of the Ohio State and Columbus Bar Associations. Angela has direct oversight and management of compliance programs, and will provide guidance in complex legal matters including state and federal legislation, EEO law, client education, adjudication, pre/adverse action process, NAPBS Accreditation and client and vendor contract management.
Angela Preston
Follow Me
Tweet
Share
Email
Share
  • As a citizen of the state of Illinois, I want to thank our broken government for wasting time by passing a law for a practice that just isn’t being employed. Now, go figure out why our state can’t balance its budget.