Back 

Employer Access to Social Media Passwords

Employer Access to Social Media Usernames and Passwords

2012 Legislation
 

Year-end summary (Jan. 17, 2013)

laptopSee also 2013 and 2014 legislation.

Increasing numbers of Americans use social media, both on and off the job. Recently, some employers have asked employees to turn over their username or passwords for their personal accounts. Some employers argue that access to personal accounts is needed to protect proprietary information or trade secrets, to comply with federal financial regulations, or to prevent the employer from being exposed to legal liabilities. But others consider requiring access to personal accounts an invasion of employee privacy. State legislators introduced legislation beginning in 2012 to prevent employers from requesting passwords to personal Internet accounts—including email, banking and social networking sites—in order to get or keep a job. Some states have similar legislation protect students in public colleges and universities from having to grant access to their social networking accounts.

 See also 2013 legislation relating to employer access to social media usernames and passwords.

PLEASE NOTE: NCSL cannot provide assistance with individual cases. NCSL serves state legislators and their staff. This site provides general comparative information only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice. Please check individual legislative websites for the most current status, summaries and versions of bill text.



2012 Summary

Six states--California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey--enacted legislation in 2012 that prohibits requesting or requiring an employee, student or applicant to disclose a user name or password for a personal social media account. California, Illinois, Maryland, and Michigan laws apply to employers. California, Delaware, Michigan and New Jersey have laws that apply to  academic institutions. In all, fourteen states introduced legislation in 2012 that would restrict employers from requesting access to social networking usernames and passwords of applicants, students or employees.

California
A.B. 1844
Status: September 27, 2012. Signed by Governor. Chapter 618.
Prohibits an employer from requiring or requesting an employee or applicant for employment to disclose a user name or password for the purpose of accessing personal social media to access personal social media in the presence of the employer, or to divulge any personal social media. Prohibits an employer from discharging, disciplining, threatening to discharge or discipline, or otherwise retaliating against an employee or applicant for not complying with a request or demand by a violating employer.

S.B. 1349
Status: September 27, 2012. Signed by Governor. Chapter 619.
Prohibits public and private postsecondary educational institutions, employees and representatives from requiring or requesting a student, prospective student, or student group to disclose personal social media information. Prohibits such institutions from threatening or taking certain actions for refusal of a demand for such information. Requires certain actions by such institutions to ensure compliance with these provisions. Requires such institution to post social media privacy policy on its web site.  

Delaware
H.B. 308
Status: June 21, 2012. House Amendment No. HA 1 placed with bill. 
Makes it unlawful for employers to mandate that an employee or applicant disclose password or account information that would grant the employer access the employee's or applicant's social networking profile or account. Prohibits employers from requesting that employees or applicants log onto their respective social networking site profiles.

H.B. 309
Status: July 20, 2012. Signed by Governor, Chapter 354.
Makes it unlawful for a public or nonpublic academic institution to mandate that a student or applicant disclose password or account information granting the academic institution access to the student's or applicant's social networking profile or account. Prohibits academic institutions from requesting that a student or applicant log onto a personal social media account.

Illinois
H.B. 3782
StatusAugust 1, 2012. Signed by Governor. Public Act 97-0875.
Amends the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act. Provides that it shall be unlawful for any employer to ask any prospective employee to provide any username, password, or other related account information in order to gain access to a social networking website where that prospective employee maintains an account or profile.

H.B. 5713
Status: February 16, 2012. To House Committee on Rules.
Amends the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act. Provides that it is unlawful for any employer to ask any prospective employee to provide any username, password, or other related account information in order to gain access to a social networking website where that prospective employee maintains an account or profile.

Maryland
H.B. 310
Status: January 30, 2012. To House Committee on Appropriations.
Prohibiting public and nonpublic institutions of higher education from requiring a student or applicant for admission to provide the academic institution with access to specified Internet sites or electronic accounts through specified electronic devices, to disclose specified password and related information, or to install specified monitoring or tracking software onto specified electronic devices.

H.B. 364
Status: March 12, 2012. Withdrawn from further consideration
Prohibiting specified employers from requiring an employee or applicant for employment to provide the employer with access to specified Internet sites or electronic accounts through specified electronic devices; prohibiting specified employers from requiring an employee to install specified monitoring or tracking software onto specified electronic devices.

H.B. 746
Status: February 27, 2012. Withdrawn from further consideration.
Prohibits an institution of postsecondary education from requiring a student or an applicant for admission to provide access to a personal account or service through an electronic communications device, to disclose any user name, password, or other means for accessing specified accounts or services through an electronic communications device, or to install on specified electronic communications devices software that monitors or tracks electronic content.

S.B. 434
Status: March 13, 2012. To House Committee on Appropriations.
Prohibiting an institution of postsecondary education from requiring a student or an applicant for admission to provide access to a personal account or service through an electronic communications device, to disclose any user name, password, or other means for accessing specified accounts or services through an electronic communications device, or to install on specified electronic communications devices software that monitors or tracks electronic content.

H.B. 964 / S.B. 433
Status: May 2, 2012. Signed by Governor, Chapter 232/233 .
Prohibits an employer from requesting or requiring that an employee or applicant disclose any user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account or service through specified electronic communications devices.

Massachusetts
H.D. 4323
Status: March 13, 2012. Filed.
Relates to social networking and employment.

Michigan
H.B. 5523
Status: Dec. 27, 2012. Signed by GovernorPublic Act 478.
Prohibits employers and educational institutions from requiring certain individuals to disclose information that allows access to certain social networking accounts. Prohibits employers and educational institutions from taking certain actions for failure to disclose information that allows access to certain social networking accounts.

H.B. 5623
Status: May 10, 2012. Referred to Committee on Energy and Technology.
Prohibits employers and educational institutions from requiring certain individuals to disclose information that allows access to certain personal data storage accounts, such as social networking accounts. Prohibits employers and educational institutions from taking certain actions for failure to disclose information that allows access to certain personal data storage accounts.

Minnesota
H.F. 2963
Status: March 26, 2012. To House Committee on Commerce and Regulatory Reform. Regular session adjourned.
Prohibiting employers from requiring social network passwords as a condition of employment.

H.F. 2982
Status: March 29, 2012. To House Committee on Commerce and Regulatory Reform. Regular session adjourned.
Prohibits employers from requesting or requiring social network user names, passwords, or related information.

S.F. 2565
Status: March 27, 2012. To Senate Committee on Jobs and Economic Growth. Regular session adjourned.
Prohibits employers from requiring social network passwords as a condition of employment.

Missouri
H.B. 2060
Status: April 30, 2012 To House Committee on Rules. Regular session adjourned.
Prohibits an employer from requesting or requiring an employee or applicant to disclose any user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account or service through electronic means. 

New Jersey

A.B. 2878
Status: November 12, 2012; Passed Senate. Received in the Assembly, 2nd Reading on Concurrence.
Prohibits requirement to disclose user name, password, or other means for accessing account or service through electronic communications device by employers.


A.B. 2879
Status: December 3, 2012, Signed by Governor, Chapter 75.
Prohibits requirement to disclose user name, password, or other means for accessing account or service through electronic communications devices by institutions of higher education.

S.B. 1898
Status: May 14, 2012. To Senate Committee on Labor.
Prohibits requirement to provide information for access to account on social networking website by employer.

S.B. 1915
Status: October 25, 2012; Substituted by A2878.
Prohibits requirement to disclose user name, password, or other means for accessing account or service through electronic communications device by employers.

S.B. 1916
Status: October 25, 2012; Substituted by A2879.
Prohibits requirement to disclose user name, password, or other means for accessing account or service through electronic communications devices by institutions of higher education.

New York
S.B. 6938
Status: April 13, 2012. To Senate Committee on Labor.
Protects the privacy of employees' and prospective employees' social media accounts. 

A.B. 9654
Status: June 18, 2012. To Senate Committee on Rules. 
Prohibits an employer from requesting or requiring that an employee or applicant disclose any user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account or service through specified electronic communications devices.

S.B. 6831
Status: March 27, 2012. Introduced.
Prohibits an employer from requesting or requiring that an employee or applicant disclose any user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account or service through specified electronic communications devices.

S.B. 7077
Status: May 31, 2012. Amended in Senate Committee on Labor.
Protects the privacy of employees' and prospective employees' social media accounts.

A.B. 10396
Status: May 31, 2012. Enacting clause stricken.
Protects the privacy of employees' and prospective employees' social media accounts.

Ohio
S.B. 351
Status: June 12, 2012. To Senate Committee on Insurance, Commerce and Labor.  
Prohibits employers, employment agencies, personnel placement services, and labor organizations from requiring an applicant or employee to provide access to private electronic accounts of the applicant or employee.
 
Pennsylvania
H.B. 2332
Status: June 18, 2012. To House Committee on Labor and Industry.
Relates to, in labor and employment settings, the protection of user names, passwords or other means necessary to access a private or personal social media account, service or Internet website.

South Carolina
H.B. 5105
Status: March 29, 2012. To House Committee on Judiciary.
Provides that an employer may not ask an employee or prospective employee to provide a password or other related account information in order to gain access to the employee's or prospective employee's profile or account on a social networking website. The refusal of an employee or prospective employee to provide a password, account information, or access to his account or profile on a social networking website to an employer must not be the basis of personnel action including, but not limited to, employment, termination, demotion, or promotions of the employee.

Washington
S.B. 6637
Status: April 11, 2012; By resolution, reintroduced and retained in present status. To Senate Committee on Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection. Regular session adjourned.
Prohibits any person, firm, corporation, or the state of Washington, its political subdivisions, or municipal corporations to require, directly or indirectly, as a condition of employment or continued employment, that any employee or prospective employee submit any password or other related account information in order to gain access to the employee's or prospective employee's account or profile on a social networking web site or to demand access in any manner to an employee's or prospective employee's account or profile on a social networking web site.
 

Contact for more information: Pam Greenberg, NCSL Denver Office, 303-364-7700 ext. 1413, pam.greenberg@ncsl.org.

StateNet logo

 

Share this: 
New Members Welcome
We are the nation's most respected bipartisan organization providing states support, ideas, connections and a strong voice on Capitol Hill.

NCSL Member Toolbox

Denver

7700 East First Place
Denver, CO 80230
Tel: 303-364-7700 | Fax: 303-364-7800

Washington

444 North Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 515
Washington, D.C. 20001
Tel: 202-624-5400 | Fax: 202-737-1069

Copyright 2014 by National Conference of State Legislatures