New laws in the states of California and Illinois beef up protection of privacy for social media accounts.
The new laws come in the wake of a new law signed in Michigan that also intend to keep access to social media accounts only to their owners.
In California, two laws will take effect tomorrow that prevent companies and schools from requiring social media account access information such as usernames and passwords from their applicants, employees and students.
Social media accounts protected by the two laws include those on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Furthermore, the laws also protect access credentials to personal email addresses.
The first of the two California laws is Senate Bill 1249 authored by San Francisco Democrat Senator Leland Yee.
“The practice of employers or colleges demanding social media passwords is entirely unnecessary and completely unrelated to someone’s performance or abilities,” said Senator Yee in a statement.
“California has declared that this is an unacceptable invasion of personal privacy,” he added.
The second law is Assembly Bill 1844 authored by San Jose Democrat Assemblywoman Nora Campos.
The assemblywoman has also filed another bill which is essentially the same as Assembly Bill 1844 but for government employees of California.
Senate Bill 1349 protects social media accounts in the public and private education sector while Assembly Bill 1844 protects social media accounts in the private business sector.
“The Golden State is pioneering the social media revolution and these laws will protect all Californians from unwarranted invasions of their personal social media accounts,” Governor Jerry Brown, who signed both laws in September, said in a statement.
Illinois also has a new law that protects social media account access from being required by employers from their applicants and current employees.
The Illinois law takes effect January 1.
The law was previously House Bill 3782 which became Public Act 097-0875.
Essentially, Public Act 097-0875 is the same as the Maruland social media privacy law which was the first law to be signed in the US protecting social media accounts.
“Members of the workforce should not be punished for information their employers don’t legally have the right to have,” Illinois Governor Quinn said in a statement after he signed the law.
“As use of social media continues to expand, this new law will protect workers and their right to personal privacy,” he added.
The Illinois law bans businesses 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
- demand access in any manner to an employee’s or prospective employee’s account or profile on a social networking website.
The new laws comes as the issue of social media privacy protection heats up in the US.