Senate Sends Governor Social Media Privacy Legislation

August 21, 2012

Bills will prohibit employers, colleges from seeking social media passwords

SACRAMENTO – Today, the California State Senate unanimously approved legislation that will prohibit colleges and universities from formally requesting or demanding students provide their social media usernames and passwords. Governor Jerry Brown will have until September 30 to sign or veto the bill.

SB 1349, authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), accompanies AB 1844 (awaiting a Senate floor vote), which will protect the privacy of workers and job applicants in private businesses and government agencies.

The bills come after a growing number of businesses, public agencies, and colleges around the country are asking job seekers, workers, and students for their Facebook and Twitter account information.

“California is set to end this unacceptable invasion of personal privacy,” said Yee. “The practice of employers or colleges demanding social media passwords is entirely unnecessary and completely unrelated to someone’s performance or abilities.”

In addition to the privacy of students and workers, accessing social media accounts may also invade the privacy of family members and friends who thought they only were sharing information with their own social media network.

“These social media outlets are often for the purpose of individuals to share private information – including age, marital status, religion, sexual orientation and personal photos – with their friends and family,” said Yee. “This information is illegal for employers and colleges to use in making employment and admission decisions and has absolutely no bearing on a person’s ability to do their job or be successful in the classroom.”

“SB 1349 is a significant step towards securing Californians’ constitutional right to privacy, both online and offline,” said Jon Fox, Consumer Advocate for CALPIRG.

The legislation would also prohibit employers and colleges from demanding personal email addresses and login information of employees, applicants, and students.

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Contact: Adam J. Keigwin,
(916) 651-4008