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2 More States Ban Employers From Asking For Social Media Passwords

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May 29, 2014

By Eric B. Meyer

Within the past week, two states have passed laws, which will provide employees with more workplace protections.

Truth be told, I wasn’t sure that the internet had yet arrived in either Oklahoma or Louisiana, the latter of which is still controlled by a French monarch, I’m fairly certain.

(But since Louisiana also has beignets and Mardi Gras, all is forgiven).

And, sure enough, Oklahoma and Louisiana not only have the internet, but social media too. Who knew?

Solutions in search of a problem

So, here’s the deal with these two laws.

In Oklahoma, this new law bans companies from requesting that current and prospective employees provide them with their online logins or passwords. It also prohibits retaliating against a current or prospective employee for failing to provide those login credentials.

The exceptions to the rule on providing usernames and passwords are for accounts or services provided by the employer and certain workplace investigations. Additionally, an employer may review or access personal online social media accounts that an employee may choose to use while utilizing an employer’s computer system, information technology network or an employer’s electronic communication device.

In Louisiana, the new law is very similar. It also protects school students.

At least one report I read cited a lawmaker who claimed that these new laws are “designed to halt a trend of employers invading the online privacy of employees and potential hires.” But, once again, no actual study was cited.

So, if anyone has any actual facts to supports to support this alleged “trend,” here is as good a place as any to share them. Otherwise, I still contend that these laws are solutions, while well-intentioned, in search of a problem.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

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