Thursday, March 8, 2012

Maryland Legislation Would Protect Employee and Job Applicant Social Media Privacy Rights

The state of Maryland continues to lead the way regarding social media and the law. Whether its creating social media election authority regulations or seminal case law on social media evidence authentication I am proud to say that my home state's elected leaders and judiciary have set the benchmark for the rest of the country to follow regarding social media and the law.

During this year's legislative session, Maryland Senate Bill 433 and House Bill 964 were introduced and if passed they will prohibit employers from requiring employees and applicants from disclosing their social media user names and passwords.

According to the synopsis on the Maryland Legislature's website of Senate Bill 433 it states:

Labor and Employment – User Name and Password Privacy Protection and Exclusions

"FOR the purpose of prohibiting an employer from requesting or requiring that an employee or applicant disclose any user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account or service through certain electronic communications devices; prohibiting an employer from taking, or threatening to take, certain disciplinary actions for an employee’s refusal to disclose certain password and related information; prohibiting an employer from failing or refusing to hire an applicant as a result of the applicant’s refusal to disclose certain password and related information
..."

According to the synopsis on the Maryland Legislature's website of House Bill 964 it states:

Labor and Employment – User Name and Password Privacy Protection


"FOR the purpose of prohibiting an employer from requesting or requiring that an employee or applicant disclose any user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account or service through certain electronic communications devices; prohibiting an employer from taking, or threatening to take, certain disciplinary actions for an employee’s refusal to disclose certain password and related information; prohibiting an employer from failing or refusing to hire an applicant as a result of the applicant’s refusal to disclose certain password and related information..."


The legislation is a win-win for employers, employees, and taxpayers. The bills are designed to protect employee privacy while still enabling the securities and other regulated industries to comply with their strict compliance regulations. 

I encourage everyone who reads this to reach out to Maryland's legislators to voice support for these bills and to lobby your state legislatures to pass similar legislation. These bills are a win for employers, employees, and taxpayers.

(Full Disclosure: I am not being paid for my work on this legislation. I believe that privacy rights still matter in the Social Media Age and I want to protect employers, employees, and taxpayers from unforeseen legal issues that may arise if these practices continue. Therefore, I have been in constant contact with Maryland Senator Ronald Young and Maryland Delegate Shawn Tarrant to work with them to create a common sense solution to this problem that protects the interests of employers, employees, and taxpayers.)

To learn how social media intersects with the law you may contact me at http://shearlaw.com/attorney_profile.

Copyright 2012 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.