Q&A with Courtney Warmington
Social media legislation is meant
to protect employees of company
Q: State lawmakers last week passed legislation regarding social media. What are the specifics?
A: Employers are prohibited from requiring disclosure of user name or password information for personal online social media accounts of employees or prospective employees. The law also makes it unlawful for an employer to require an employee or prospective employee to access their account in an employer’s presence. Additional provisions prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who refuse to provide such access or refusing to hire prospective employees who do the same. If signed by the governor, the new law will take effect Nov. 1.
Q: Are there any exceptions?
boldA: First, the law does not apply to personal online social media accounts that are publicly available. This law is geared only toward those personal online accounts that an employee or prospective employee has taken steps to keep private. In addition, the law specifically exempts any computer system, network or device provided or subsidized by the employer, as well as any account that has been created for business purposes. The law also recognizes employers may inadvertently obtain user name or password information as part of monitoring the company’s own network systems. An employer who does so is not liable under the law, so long as the information is not used to access the account. The law also makes a number of exceptions for workplace investigations, making clear that employees still can be asked about the content of their online activity, just not their passwords.