On Wednesday August 1, 2012, Illinois became the second state, joining Maryland, to pass legislation banning employers from requesting Facebook and other social media site login information from current and prospective employees. The bill will go into effect on January 1, 2013, and prohibits Illinois employers from accessing the non-public portions of employees’ and job applicants’ social media profiles. The bill does not, however, limit employer access to the public portions of such profiles.
In April 2012, Maryland became the first state to pass similar legislation. A number of states, including New York, New Jersey, California, Delaware, and Washington, have similar statutes making their way through the state legislature. The United States Senate and House of Representatives may also consider such legislation in the near future.
Employers with offices in multiple states need to be cognizant of the ever-changing social media legislative landscape. As more states join Maryland and Illinois in enacting social media legislation, employers will need to consult with local counsel regarding the nuances of each state’s social media law, and revise internal policies and practices accordingly.