Maryland Law 1st in US to Protect Social Media Passwords

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By Admin on April 18, 2012 7:02 AM

Employers who ask for an employee's social media passwords in Maryland may soon be banned from doing so under a proposed law.

The Maryland General Assembly has passed a bill that would prohibit employers from requesting access to employees' social media accounts, like Facebook and Twitter. The measure has been sent to Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley for signing. If it passes, the law would be the first of its kind in the country.

The move marks a huge step forward for privacy advocates. But not everyone agrees with the proposed protections.

Business groups within the state, such as the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, have criticized the bill, SB 433/HB 964. They argue that access to a potential employee's social media accounts is sometimes necessary to screen out unfit candidates, The Baltimore Sun reports.

Employers requesting candidates' social media passwords is a growing trend in job interviews today . There aren't any current laws in any state that prevent the practice.

For the most part, employee privacy protection as it relates to hiring is generally limited to anything that is discriminatory in nature, such as race or religion. Beyond this, most states allow employers to ask whatever they want to prospective employees about their personal history.

Of course, an interviewee can also choose not to answer certain questions. But then they risk turning off potential employers.

The Maryland bill doesn't provide complete protection, however. An amendment was added to allow employers to investigate an employee's social media account if proprietary company information is posted.

No word yet on whether O'Malley plans to sign the Maryland social media password bill into law.

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