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Social Media Update

02.21.2013

As of the first of the year, six states — California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey have passed laws that prohibit employers from requesting or requiring employees or job applicants to provide the employer with access or account information - i.e., a password, user name, or other account details – to the employee’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media accounts. Another dozen or so states including Nebraska, Missouri and New Hampshire are considering similar legislation. A federal version of this law was introduced to the House of Representatives on February 6, 2013. None of these laws, however, appear to restrict an employer’s right to access information that is already available publicly. In other words, employers can still Google their employees (but, be careful in how you use the information you find). In addition, current law does not limit the employer’s right to implement and maintain workplace policies regarding the use of the employer’s electronic equipment for Internet use, social networking site use, or electronic mail use. As previously noted, employers should tread carefully in the social media world.

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