Social Media Users at Work Get Protections

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – California Gov. Jerry Brown used the five major social media platforms to announce the signing of bills aimed at protecting users from prying employers.
     Assembly Bill 1844 and Senate Bill 1349 prohibit employers and universities from requiring that applicants give up email and social media account passwords according to a statement released by Gov. Brown Thursday.
     AB 1844 by Nora Campos, D-San Jose, prohibits employers from demanding usernames, passwords or any other information related to social media accounts from employees and job applicants. Employers are also banned from firing or disciplining employees who refuse to divulge the information. The new law exempts employer-issued electronic devices and is not intended to impede investigations of workplace misconduct, Brown said.
     SB 1349 by Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, establishes similar restrictions on public and private universities and colleges. Gov. Brown said that while the law prohibits these institutions from collecting usernames and passwords from applicants, students and student groups, it does not affect the school’s right to investigate or punish student misconduct.
     “The Golden State is pioneering the social media revolution and these laws will protect all Californians from unwarranted invasions of their personal social media accounts,” Brown said.
     Proponents of AB 1844 hope the bill brings clarity to a murky area of employment law and stops a business practice that impedes job creation and employment, according to the governor’s office. However, language in the bill also states that California’s labor commissioner “is not required to investigate or determine any violation of a provision of this bill.”
     Brown said that SB 1349 – which passed without opposition in the Legislature – should stop a growing trend of colleges and universities snooping into students’ social media accounts, particularly those of student athletes.

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