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Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Bill Exempts Professional Accounts From Social Media Password Ban

Effective January 1, 2013, the Illinois General Assembly enacted a law prohibiting employers from requiring employees to provide passwords to their social networking accounts. 9 other states have enacted similar laws, the most recent having been adopted in Colorado.

The Illinois law is very broad in its prohibitions and includes the following language:

It shall be unlawful for any employer to request or require any employee or prospective employee to provide any password or other related account information in order to gain access to the employee’s or prospective employee’s account or profile on a social networking website or to demand access in any manner to any employee’s or prospective employee’s account or profile on a social networking website.
 
The use of the language “on a social networking website” essentially covers all social networking websites, not just private websites. Senate Bill 2306 proposes to amend this statute to clarify that the ban does not apply to “professional accounts,” defined as an “account, service, or profile created, maintained, used or accessed by a current or prospective employee for business purposes of the employer.” A “personal account” (still subject to the ban) is defined as an “account, service, or profile on a social networking website that is used by a current or prospective employee exclusively for personal communications unrelated to any business purpose of the employer.

Currently, this bill has passed the senate and is on its third reading in front of the house. We will continue to update you as this legislation progresses.

Guest authored by Bob McCabe

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