Illinois has officially joined Maryland and Delaware. Like the laws in the other states, the Illinois version prevents employers from requiring employees and/or applicants from disclosing their social media account passwords.
Once again, our good friend Bradley Shear appears to have had a major influence on the legislation. Per the Wall Street Journal:
The laws are both “pro-business and pro-privacy,” attorney Bradley Shear told Law Blog. Mr. Shear, who advised the Illinois bill’s sponsor and drafted the Maryland law, said the new laws represent a trend that has support from both Republicans and Democrats.
Over on his blog, Shear on Social Media, Brad points out an interesting aspect of the Illinois law:
While an Illinois employer may not be able to require that an employee or job applicant provide access to one’s password protected Facebook page as a condition for employment, one of your Facebook Friends can still freely contact your employer and send them your password protected digital content.
As always, good on Brad for continuing to push for and help author this legislation. Nearly all of my employment law clients are employers (not employees) and it is clear that these laws will benefit businesses as well as limit risk and exposure. And keep your eyes out for similar bills to officially hit the books in the near future; we have known for a long time that they were coming (and don’t expect them to stop):
California has a similar bill under consideration and could be the next state to pass it, Mr. Shear said. Michigan also has a bill in the legislature, and New Jersey has its own version in the works, according to Mr. Shear. In all, at least 15 states have introduced some kind of social media privacy legislation.
And In addition to those 15 states, SNOPA is still hanging around on the federal level.
Let me reiterate the advice that I post at the end of each of these social media password posts: Once again, if you’re doing this (requiring passwords) now, go ahead and stop (voluntarily–or if you’re in Maryland, Delaware, or Illinois, because it’s the law, and if you’re in California, Michigan, or basically any other state, because it is going to be the law). One way or the other, you will not be allowed to keep or continue this practice.
Maybe Brad will weigh in via a comment and let us know whether the Illinois law includes the protections for student athletes (which he always points out as one of the most important aspects of the social media statutes he helps draft–student athletes are really on the raw end of this social media password scheme). Based on what I have read, it does not appear so (but hopefully I am wrong).