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Focus on Social Media

Law firms and HR professional associations are beginning to offer advice on what to do about a suite of new laws regarding privacy and social media.

On May 28, in Oregon, HB 2654 officially became law. Going into effect Jan. 1, 2014, the law prohibits an employer from requiring or requesting employees or applicants for employment to provide access to personal social media accounts, to add their employer to a social media contact list or to allow an employer to view an employee's or applicant's personal social media account. It further prohibits retaliation by an employer against an employee or an applicant for refusal to provide access to accounts or to add an employer to a contact list. It similarly limits educational institutions.

On May 21, in Washington, SB 5211 officially became law. Going into effect July 28, 2013, the law prohibits employers from asking for social media log-in information, from engaging in a practice known as “shoulder-surfing” (essentially forcing an employee to log into a social media account while the employer looks on), from forcing someone to add an employer (or anyone else) as a social media connection and from forcing an employee to change privacy settings on an account.

Jackson Lewis rounds up the law’s implications and notable exceptions.

Washington and Oregon join Arkansas and Colorado in adding social media laws this spring.

New Jersey still awaits the fate of A2878, which was passed by the Assembly and Senate, only to be conditionally vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie earlier this year. Taking in the governor’s recommendations to eliminate a portion of the bill that would have allowed employees to sue employers who violated the law, a revised version of the bill unanimously passed the Assembly in late May and now awaits a vote in the senate.

It appears likely the bill will eventually make its way to Christie’s desk and be signed into law. The law would prohibit any requirement to disclose user names and passwords or other means of accessing a social media account through any electronic communications device.

In the IAPP’s Resource Center, you can find a Littler report on “Social Media Password Protection and Privacy–The Patchwork of State Laws and How it Affects Employers.”

In Other News

Legislators from both sides of the aisle and in both houses introduced last week the Cyber Economic Espionage Accountability Act, HR 2281, which would introduce new punishments for cyber criminals operating in foreign locales. You can read Rep. Mike Rogers’ (R-Mich.) description of the bill here.

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