In what can only be described as a win for privacy advocates in California, Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills into law that effectively ban the request of social media usernames and passwords by employers and universities. These laws will go into effect on January 1st and will make it illegal to demand an employee (or student’s) social media username or password.
This is good news for California residents who have been affected by the growing trend of employers and learning institutions demanding usernames and passwords as a requirement of employment and admission. It also goes as far as to restrict any disciplinary action of any kind for an employee who refuses to give up their personal Twitter account information.
If you haven’t heard of this trend, you’re fortunate. A growing number of employers have been requiring usernames and passwords from employees for the purposes of evaluating their “fit” within the company. In addition, this information has been required under the guise of ensuring that employees don’t spill the beans about company secrets, which is a fairly big concern in Silicon Valley.
Students are also feeling the intrusive hand of the admissions board as their social media accounts are under a microscope from day one. Student athletes are especially subject to examination. Unfortunately, this trend also reaches into an area that some students would much rather keep personal. Who would want the dean of their school reading private messages from their girlfriend/boyfriend? For that matter, why would you need to surrender your username or password for the school to keep an eye on your tweets?
I personally feel that this is a big win for California. Similar bills should be introduced and passed in states across the union.
What do you think? Is this a good thing? Should employers have the ability to log in to your Facebook or Twitter account?
Photo: Alex E. Proimos