Password Law in Effect;

Covers Private, Public Sectors


Is it too Stringent?

             Effective August 1, 2012 most employers in Illinois are barred from requiring social media (e.g., facebook) account passwords and other information from applicants and employees. Illinois is the second state to pass such a law, after Maryland.

             The law, which amends the state’s Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act, prohibits an employer from 1) requesting or requiring a password or other account information in order to gain access to the person’s account online, and 2) demanding access in any manner to an applicant’s or employee’s account or profile on a social networking website.

             Because there are no exceptions, critics already have questioned this flat interdiction against investigating conduct posing imminent danger to co-workers or third parties. The law does carve out “information in the public domain,” and the courts will have to sort out the distinctions between social networking websites and private blogs, chat rooms, and websites not designed to provide social networking.