It looks like employees in the state of Washington have one less thing to worry about when it comes to personal privacy in the workplace. Just one month after a last-minute amendment to the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was defeated in the House of Representatives, Washington has now become the fifth state this year to make it illegal for employers to request social media passwords from staff and interviewees.
The bill, signed by Gov. Jay Inslee, bans your boss or potential employer from asking for any personal social network passwords. And if you simply don’t feel comfortable friending or following your managers on Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest for that matter, the bill also makes it illegal for them to “make” you do that, too. Yes, this actually happens in the American workplace, but in Washington, you’ll now have a choice when it comes to friending your employer.
There is just one tiny catch, however. Though the bill protects your personal Facebook and Twitter passwords, it still allows your employer to request social media “content” during internal workplace investigations. This could happen if a coworker states that you’re leaking confidential company information on your personal social media profiles. And if you’re not doing that (and even if you are, but let’s hope you’re not!), the bill still protects you from having to turn over any social content to your employer; your boss simply doesn’t have that absolute power under the current law.
These workplace social media password protection bills passed in Washington and other states are great news for online privacy advocates, but what are the rest of the states going to do about companies requiring employees to fork over their confidential social networking information? According to the National Conference and State Legislatures, 33 other states also have plans to make these password requests illegal.
Just remember: Though technology and social media have made it more difficult to protect what we want to keep private, taking smart measures to protect your information on social media can help keep technological advances going strong which, in turn, will help create new jobs in innovative fields. And if you’re on the job hunt, make sure you consider the ways that you can shine bright like a diamond on social media while still protecting your personal information.
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