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California Senate OKs ban to keep employers from social media passwords

May 25, 2012|By Salvador Rodriguez

California's Senate doesn't think your employer should have access to your Facebook account, and now, it's passed a bill reflecting that attitude.

The state Senate passed SB1349 Friday, which would make it illegal for employers and admissions officers at colleges and universities to ask current or prospective employees and students for passwords to their social media accounts.

With just five senators dissenting, the bill brings California another step closer to becoming one of the first states keeping companies out of their workers' social media accounts.

The bills sponsor, Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said social media accounts often contain information employers are not allowed to ask for, including a person's religion.

“Just simply turning over that account to an employer opens up tremendous liability,” Yee said, according to the Associated Press.

Passage of the legislation comes a few weeks after the state's Assembly passed a similar bill. Bill 1844, sponsored by Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D-San Jose), would designate anything marked as private on social media accounts as being beyond employers' limits.

SB 1844 is similar to Yee's bill passed Friday except that it does not extend the ban on employers to colleges and universities. Each of the bills now awaits passage in the others' chamber.

Of those opposing Yee's bill, Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, said the proposed legislation goes too far and could keep employers from investigating employee harassment claims thoroughly.

“Sometimes you can prevent an escalation of harassment by intervening early,” Gaines said, according to the AP.

At least four states -- Washington, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey -- are looking at similar bills, and at the capital, two U.S. senators have asked theU.S. Department of Justiceto review whether such actions by employers is legals.

ALSO:

Asking job applicants for Facebook password, fair or legal?

Facebook softens its stand on bosses violating applicant privacy

Assembly votes to keep Facebook passwords private from employers

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