Employers, Schools Can't Ask For Facebook Passwords Anymore

By Shailesh Shrivastava email: s.shrivastava@mobilenapps.com | Jan 02, 2013 12:39 AM EST

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If you are working in California or Illinois, and worried about your Facebook content being seen by your employer. Don't worry. A new law gives you a relief by protecting your privacy.

According to the new law, it will be illegal for bosses to ask for the passwords of social networking or any other non-public online account from their present or prospective employees.

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A similar bill was passed by four other states -Delaware, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey.

Going one step forward, Michigan also prohibits schools and college from keeping a check on students' online activities.

"Cyber security is important to the reinvention of Michigan, and protecting the private Internet accounts of residents is a part of that. Potential employees and students should be judged on their skills and abilities, not private online activity," Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder said after signing legislation protecting the online privacy.

The Illinois General Assembly, in the recent bill, puts a detailed cap on employers by amending the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act.

"It shall be unlawful for any employer to request or require any employee or prospective employee to provide 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 website or to demand access in any manner to an employee's or prospective employee's account or profile on a social networking website," a subsection of the new law reads.

"Monitor usage of the employer's electronic equipment and the employer's electronic mail without requesting or requiring any employee or prospective employee to provide 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 website," another subsection reads.

With the new law coming into effect, employees get an option of not sharing the content in their social networking accounts with their bosses, however, employers will still be able to see and keep a tab on the content shared publicly.

In 2011, some employers in Maryland had asked their employees and job applicants to surrender their emails and passwords. When the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) got to know about the issue, it argued that the practice was an invasion of privacy. However, after that surrender of passwords stop but employers started asking the employees to log in to their account in front of them so the employers can browse through the content in the profile.

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