JSH Reporter Summer 2015 - Page 17

SOCIALMEDIAARTICLE 017 “In total, there are at least twenty states that have now enacted laws restricting employers’ access to social media or electronic mail, with more states certain to follow.” to review public information, such as information that may be available to the general public on an applicant’s social media pages. This would include any information that is not protected as confidential. One primary area of debate is an employer’s access to private social media information during an internal investigation regarding claims of harassment or intimidation. Some states, such as Illinois and Nevada, provide no express exception for workplace investigations. California’s social media law, on the other hand, provides that an employer may request that an employee provide social media logins and passwords when there is a potential violation of law. Arkansas’s laws permit an employer to ask an employee to provide login credentials in order to investigate possible work misconduct. Other Legislation Related to the Access of Social Media and E-Mail Accounts Lawmakers have broadened the scope of these social media laws to include more than just employers. Several states have adopted, or attempted to adopt, legislation regarding access by educational institutions to social media. For example, Illinois passed a law that makes it unlawful for a school to request or require a student or prospective student to provide a password or other related account information in order to gain access to the student’s or prospective student’s account or profile on a social networking website. Louisiana passed a law that applies to both employers and educational institutions, which prohibits requesting individuals to disclose information that allows access to or observation of personal online accounts. In 2011, the Arizona Senate introduced SB 1411, which prohibited employers from requesting or requiring a user name, password or other means of accessing an online personal account from employees or applicants. SB 1411 also prohibited an employer from not hiring an applicant for the applicant’s refusal to disclose social media information. The bill was not passed out of the Rules Committee. The California Legislature introduced Assembly Bill 2070, which would have prohibited a court from requiring or requesting a juror or prospective juror to disclose a username or password for the purposes of accessing personal social media or requiting that the juror or potential juror access social media in the presence of the judge, counsel, or any officer of the court. The legislation was not heard in committee. To date, there have been no other states to introduce legislation regarding requests for prospective jurors’ confidential login information. Conclusion Social media accounts undoubtedly provide a wealth of information about a person, both public and private. State lawmakers are attempting to combat access to this information by employers and others, in an effort to keep this information private and confidential. As