California today joined two other states making it a crime for employers and colleges to ask applicants or workers for their social media login information in order to access their private Web sites. The new laws — one for companies and one for colleges — go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a state bill that prohibits employers from demanding usernames and passwords from employees and job applicants. He also signed a second, similar bill that prevents colleges and universities from demanding access to students’ and prospective students’ social media accounts.
The ban does not extend to information, including passwords, used on employer-used devices.
Maryland and Illinois both passed similar laws this year to stop a trend among employers in particular from asking for the credentials to peek at prospective employees’ social networks.
The requests were troublesome not only to those asked for the private data during job interviews, but to employment law and human resource experts who say the practice put companies and colleges at risk of discrimination lawsuits if an applicant was rejected.
Brown announced the new laws on social media Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. “California pioneered the social media revolution. These laws protect Californians from unwarranted invasions of their social media accounts,” his office tweeted.