Illinois Passes Password-Privacy Law

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn May 24, 2012In: Social Media in the Workplace

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The Illinois Senate approved a bill banning employers from requesting the Facebook passwords of employees and applicants on Tuesday, reports the Chicago Tribune. If Illinois' Governor signs the legislation, it will become the second state in the country to pass such a law. Maryland was the first--its law takes effect October 1.

The article quotes two lawyers with differing views of the Illinois law. The lawyer advocating for the law is Bradley Shear, who writes the blog, Shear on Social Media, and who played a role in the passage of the Maryland law. Although I am somewhat skeptical about Shear's apparent enthusiasm for this type of law, at least the Maryland version, the drafting of which he was involved in, is fairly reasonable and limited in scope.

The lawyer advocating against the Illinois law is Jeff Nowak, who writes the award-winning Blog, FMLA Insights. Nowak argues that legislation is another example of unnecessary regulation of employers. Nowak is quoted as saying:

The overwhelming number of employers understand that this practice simply does not make much business sense -- it leads to potential employment litigation, internal administrative burdens and an accusation of being tagged 'big brother.'

You may not be surprised to learn that I side with Nowak. The number of employers engaging in this practice is minimal at best. Even the sponsor of the Illinois bill admits that she knows of only a handful of employees who claim to have been subject to this practice--and even those individuals did not disclose the names of these employers who allegedly requested their passwords.

Delaware is on its way to become the third state to pass a "password-privacy" law. I am strongly opposed to the law in its proposed form. To read more about the reasons for my opposition, you can read my prior posts on the subject. I hope that, after you do, you will consider calling your Delaware State Representative to share your concerns in advance of next Friday, when H.B. 308 moves to the House floor.

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