In late January, both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature passed the Social Media Protection Bill aimed at protecting individuals’ social media accounts. Governor Scott Walker is expected to sign the bill into law. The bill bars employers, schools, and landlords from requiring their employees, students, or tenants to produce their social media passwords. However, the bill allows employers, schools, and landlords to view individuals’ social media postings that are available to the public. Employers would also be permitted to monitor employee usage of devices provided by the employer.
This development reflects the growing trend among the states to bar employers and schools from forcing individuals to produce their social media passwords (we've covered the issue in previous blog posts here and here). At present, 12 states limit employers’ access to employees’ social media accounts and 9 states limit schools’ access to students’ social media accounts. Employers and schools should keep an eye on their state legislatures as employee and student privacy rights are rapidly expanding.