Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Maryland becomes the first state to outlaw employers requesting employee Facebook passwords

Maryland has become the first U.S. state to pass a law banning employers from asking their employees and applicants for passwords to their personal social media accounts.

Considering the first time we heard about this practice was in Feb. of 2011, with the story of Robert Collins and his recertification interview with the Maryland Department of Corrections, this is an extremely appropriate development.

The bill "prohibits an employer from requiring or requesting employees or job applicants to disclose electronic passwords, such as for social media sites.”

Despite the fact that House Republicans recently killed a bill that would have instituted a federal ban against such password snooping, the Maryland law was supported by both sides of the aisle.

In a statement provided by the ACLU, Robert Collins said, “I am excited to know that our esteemed policymakers in Maryland found it important to protect the privacy of Maryland’s citizens.”

The bill passed both houses of the Maryland General Assembly in the final hours of Maryland’s 90-day legislative session, Monday. It passed with a unanimous vote in the Senate, and 128-10 in the House. Similar legislation is pending in California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. There is talk of a similar proposal to be introduced soon in New Jersey.

The bill still awaits the signature of Gov. Martin O’Malley. However, Maryland ACLU legislative director Melissa Goemann said that she hadn’t “heard anything negative [regarding the bill] from the governor’s office.”

Update: O'Malley has signed the bill into law. It goes into effect on Oct. 1.

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