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    Legally Speaking, Can Employers Ask for Your Social Media Sites Passwords?
    Posted: 2012-07-03 05:00:27

    Have you ever been asked by your employer to hand over your password and username for facebook?

    Not surprisingly, the rising popularity of social media sites has made many companies nervous about whom they hire for work. What if the new employee says something bad about the company online? Given how big people’s online networks can be, companies have become more conscious of what others say about them.

    That is why some employers in the U.S. have started asking job applicants to disclose their account passwords. They use them to check the new hires and make sure they do not engage in any derogatory behaviour. This certainly sounds like a valid reason. Employers are entitled to do a proper due diligence and know who they hire for work. No employer wants to be seen as condoning illegal behaviour or, worse, participating in one. Too many reputations are at stake to justify insufficient hiring processes.

    Is this behaviour legal at all? With the exception of two states, there are no laws that prohibit employers from asking for access to social networking sites. However, the concerns over infringement of privacy have caused many politicians to look into this matter closely. As a result, California, New York, Minnesota and Washington have proposed legislations that prohibit employers from asking for login information. Their actions follow Maryland and Illinois. These two states have introduced new legislation this year that explicitly prohibits companies from requesting access to private online accounts. It would be interesting to follow how courts interpret these new laws. There are concerns that these legislations may create unnecessary barriers for companies that legitimately go through diligent hiring processes or attempt to regulate the use of electronic resources on the job. Courts would have to balance these concerns with employees’ privacy rights to arrive at a compromise that benefits all.

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