On April 23 Montana joined a growing group of states, now numbering 20 that have enacted laws restricting an employer’s ability to require employees to allow access to their social media accounts. The Montana law prohibits employers from requiring a job applicant to:

  • Disclose social media login credentials;
  • Access social media accounts in the employer’s presence; or
  • Divulge information contained in social media accounts.

However, the law does not apply to social media accounts owned by the employer or provided to an employee for business purposes. Additionally, the law does not prohibit employers from gaining access to social media accounts to investigate:

  • Workplace or criminal misconduct;
  • Allegations of theft of confidential information and trade secrets, if there is specific information that such transfers are occurring; or
  • Access needed to comply with federal laws and regulations.

Virginia passed similar legislation in March, with Connecticut and West Virginia failing to pass legislation on this topic in April. Two states, Mississippi and Wyoming, also voted down social media access legislation in February. 2014 saw 28 states introduce this type of legislation, with seven of those states enacting the bills into law.