This week Maryland officially became the first state to pass legislation to prohibit employers from asking job applicants for their passwords to social network sites. House Bill 964 (cross filed with Senate Bill 433) prohibits the following:
- 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 specified electronic communications devices;
- an employer from taking, or threatening to take, specified disciplinary actions for an employee's refusal to disclose specified password and related information;
- an employee from downloading specified information or data; etc.
The bill, signed by Governor O'Malley on May 2, 2012, is scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2012 and is viewable at http://mlis.state.md.us/2012RS/billfile/HB0964.htm.
Per several news reports, Illinois and California also are close to passing similar legislations. And U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have formally requested that the U.S. Attorney General look into the legalities of this practice by employers.