Protecting your social media privacy (from your boss)

May 29, 2012

State lawmakers are discussing whether to limit employers' ability to demand passwords to social media sites.

A bill would bar companies from asking employees or job applicants to hand over passwords to their Twitter, Facebook or other accounts.

The National Federation of Independent Business supports the bill.   Charlie Owens is the federation’s state director.   He told a state House committee today that employers don’t need special access to social media websites.

"The way people are so sloppy with their privacy settings on Facebook,” says Owens,  “if you want to find out any about an employee typically you don’t need their permission.”

The bill is opposed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. 

Some state lawmakers say there may need to be exceptions to such a ban for companies that deal with sensitive information.

Shelly Weisberg is with the ACLU of Michigan.    She says the ACLU supports the bill.

"We believe that employers policies that request/require employees or applicants to disclose usernames or password to private internet and web base accounts...or require the employee to let the employer to see the account...constitutes a frightening/illegal invasion of privacy,” says Weisberg.

The ACLU would like to see broader protection for students.

Maryland is the only other state with a similar law on the books.