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Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation making it illegal for employers to request access to employees' or prospective employees' private email or social networking accounts.The law, formerly known as House Bill 5523, also penalizes educational institutions for dismissing or failing to admit a student who does not provide account information for private email or online accounts like Facebook or Twitter.The law does not apply to public or private employee email accounts.While not a rampant problem in Michigan, a teacher's aide in western Michigan was reprimanded for not providing her Facebook password to her employer. Supporters of the measure have said there has been a pattern of public-safety employers seeking job applicants' Facebook passwords.Supporters of the measure have argued that employers often want to tap into employees' and job applicants' Facebook pages, where personal and family photos, and private information such as religious and political affiliations and relationship status, is available.
California and Illinois on Tuesday joined four others in becoming the union’s only states barring employers from demanding that employees fork over their social-media passwords.Congress unsurprisingly couldn’t muster the wherewithal to approve the Password Protection Act of 2012, so a handful of states have taken it upon themselves.The new laws come amid reports nationwide that employers were demanding access to their employees’ or potential employees’ personal, non-public data on Facebook, Twitter and other social-media accounts.Facebook, too, said in March that it noticed an increase in complaints about employers demanding “inappropriate access” to Facebook accounts.California’s and Illinois’ laws took force Tuesday, the first day of the year. Michigan’s and New Jersey’s became active last month and Maryland’s, in October. Delaware’s measure became law in July.California Assemblywoman Nora Campos, a Democrat from San Jose, said when the Golden State’s measure unanimously passed the California Assembly in May, that AB 1844 would protect Californians from snooping employers.“Our social-media accounts offer views into our personal lives and expose information that would be inappropriate to discuss during a job interview due to the inherent risk of creating biases in the minds of employers,” Campos said. “In order to continue to minimize the threat of bias and discrimination in the workplace and the hiring process, California must continue to evolve its privacy protections to keep pace with advancing technology.”None of the measures prohibit employers from reviewing what their employees or potential hires publicly post to social-media accounts.