State Social Media Privacy Laws

5/22/2019

Increasing numbers of Americans use social media both on and off the job and at school. Some employees, job applicants and students have expressed concerns about requests from employers or educational institutions for access to usernames or passwords for personal social media accounts. They consider such requests to be an invasion of employees’ privacy, akin to reading a diary or requiring a visit to their home.

Some employers, however, say that access to personal social media accounts of employees is needed to protect the employer’s proprietary information or trade secrets, to comply with certain federal financial regulations or to prevent the employer from being exposed to legal liabilities. 

State lawmakers began introducing legislation beginning in 2012 to prevent employers from requesting passwords to personal Internet accounts to get or keep a job. Similar legislation prohibits colleges and universities from requiring access to students’ social media accounts.

Twenty-six states have enacted laws that apply to employers; 16 apply to educational institutions, and one (Wisconsin) applies to landlords, as shown below. In addition, Maine and Vermont authorized studies. In 2016, the Uniform Law Commission adopted the Employee and Student Online Privacy Protection Act.

State Statutes

State

Citation

 

Applies to
Employers

Applies to
Educational Institutions

 

Other

Arkansas

Ark. Code § 11-2-124

Ark. Code § 6-60-104

 

 

California

Calif. Lab. Code § 980

 

Calif. Ed. Code § 99121

 

Colorado

C.R.S. 8-2-127

 

 

 

Connecticut Conn.Gen.Stat. § 31-40x
(2015 S.B. 425, Act 16)
 
   

Delaware

19 Del. Code § 709A

14 Del. Code § 8103

 

 

Illinois

820 ILCS 55/10

105 ILCS 75/10, 105 ILCS 75/15

 

 

Louisiana

 

La. Rev. Stat. § 51:1951 to §§ 1953 and 1955

La. Rev. Stat. § 51:1951 to § 1952 and §§ 1954 to 1955

 

Maine

 

26 M.R.S. § 616 to 619 

 

Study: 2014 H.B. 838/LD 1194, Chapter 112

Maryland
 

Md. Code, Labor and Emp. Law § 3-712

Md. Code, Ed. Law § 26-401

 

Michigan

MCL § 37.271-37.278

MCL § 37.271-37.278

 

 

Montana
 

Mont. Code Ann. § 39-2-307    

Nebraska

 

Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-3501 et seq.    

Nevada

NRS § 613.135

 

 

 

New Hampshire

 

N.H. Rev. Stat. § 275:74

 

N.H. Rev. Stat. 189:70

 

New Jersey

N.J. Stat. § 34:6B-6

 

 

N.J. Stat. § 18A:3-30

 

 

New Mexico

N.M. Stat. § 50-4-34
(covers job applicants only)

N.M. Stat. § 21-1-46

 

 

Oklahoma

 

40 Okla. Stat. § 173.2

 

 

Oregon

O.R.S. § 659A.330

O.R.S. §§ 350.272, 350.274

 

Rhode Island

 

R.I. Gen. Laws § 28-56-1 to -6

R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-103-1 to -6

 

Tennessee

 

Tenn. Code §§ 50-1-1001 to -1004

 

 

Utah

Utah Code § 34-48-201 et seq.

Utah Code § 53B-25-101 et seq.

 

 

Vermont

21 V.S.A. § 495l

 

Study: 2013 S.B. 7

 

Virginia

 Va. Code § 40.1-28.7:5

 

Va. Code § 23.1-405

 

Washington

RCW §§ 49.44.200 and 49.44.205

 

 

 

West Virginia

 

W.V. Code § 21-5H-1    

Wisconsin

Wis. Stat. § 995.55

 

Wis. Stat. § 995.55

Wis. Stat. § 995.55(4) (landlords)

District of Columbia   B. 578, Chap. 218  

Guam

22 GCA § 3501

 

 

 

Total Number of States

26 (+DC and Guam)

16

3