Assembly Bill 1844 adds Section 980 to the Labor Code and prohibits employers from requiring or requesting that an employee or applicant disclose a username or password (1) for the purpose of accessing personal social media, (2) to access personal social medial in the presence of the employer or (3) to divulge any personal social media. It also prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee or applicant for not complying with a request that violates Section 980.

This bill is expansive in that social media is broadly defined as an electronic account, or electronic content, including videos, photos, blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or internet website profiles or locations.

Fortunately, this bill does not prohibit employers from requesting access to social media reasonably believed to be relevant to an investigation of an employee's misconduct or violation of law, so long as it is used solely for that purpose. Employers may also require that an employee provide a username and password where needed to access an employer-issued electronic device. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2013.