On May 2, 2012, the Maryland Governor approved a measure that makes it illegal for Maryland employers from requiring or asking an employee or job applicant to disclose any user names, passwords, or any other means of accessing personal internet sites (such as Facebook) as a condition of employment. In addition, this new law also prohibits Maryland employers from disciplining an employee or refusing to hire a job applicant who declines to disclose such information. Maryland is now the first state to pass such a law. This law is known as the “User Name and Password Privacy and Exclusions” law, and takes effect on October 1, 2012. You can read a copy of the bill here.
Several other states – including New Jersey, California, Illinois, and Washington – are also considering similar legislation.
Congress is also getting in on the action: the U.S. House of Representatives has introduced the Social Networking Online Protection Act (“SNOPA”) and the U.S. Senate has introduced the Password Protection Act of 2012, both of which prohibit employers from requiring employees or job applicants to disclose their social media user names and passwords. In addition, some U.S. Senators have also asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate employers’ practices of asking job applicants for social media passwords during job interviews.
For further discussion on this topic, please see my prior blog post here.