California Stops Employers, Colleges from Invading Privacy in Social Media

September 27, 2012

Bills will prohibit employers and colleges from seeking social media passwords

SACRAMENTO – Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that will prohibit businesses and colleges from formally requesting or demanding employees, applicants, and students provide their social media usernames and passwords.

SB 1349, authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), provides protections for students and applicants at colleges and universities throughout California, and AB 1844, authored by Assemblywoman Nora Campos, provides the same protections for employees and job applicants.

In spirit with the bills’ subject area, Governor Brown and Senator Yee first made the announcement of the signings through their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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.

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

“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,” said Brown.

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