California Senate Approves Social Media Privacy Act
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can be a great place to connect and share your thoughts with friends and family – but not so much when users are coerced into sharing their passwords with potential employers.
Maybe there are photos or comments you’d rather keep private?(Photo: California Senator Leland Yee, 8th District)
A new bill, SB 1349, passed by the California Senate last week will prohibit employers and colleges from seeking Facebook and/or Twitter passwords from applicants.
“We had heard earlier that in fact people were being coerced to give up their account and we wanted to really prevent any more snowballing of this particular issue,” said Senator Leland Yee, 8th District, who drafted the legislation.
On a bipartisan 28-5 vote, the California Senate approved the legislation.
Yee says it’s understandable that employers and universities want to know what type of person they’re either hiring or accepting into their institutions.
“I can understand that, but the reality is that those social media accounts, they’re a repository of private personal information. There’s information that you can’t even release or obtain as an employer when you’re hiring someone because some of information is protected by state and federal law,” said Yee.
Facebook and Twitter allow individuals to share private information including age, marital status, religion, sexual orientation as well personal opinions and photos.
“This information is illegal for employers and colleges to use in making employment and admission decisions and has absolutely no bearing on a person’s ability to do their job or be successful in the classroom,” said Yee.
In addition to the privacy of students and workers, accessing social media accounts may also invade the privacy of family members and friends who thought they only were sharing information with their own social media network.
According to Yee’s office, rather than formally requesting passwords and usernames, some employers have demanded applicants and potential employees sit down with managers to review their social media content or fully print out their social media pages.
SB 1349 will also prohibit this practice.
“There are rules but not a whole lot of people follow those rules and unfortunately in the past we’ve had employers really asking for these account numbers and when you refuse you’re not going to get a second call back on an interview,” said Yee.
SB 1349 will now be considered by the State Assembly before heading to the Governor.