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FMG Law Blog Line

California Becomes Third State to Limit Access to Employees’ Social Media Accounts

Posted on: October 1st, 2012

By: David Cole

On Thursday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law that significantly limits when California employers may ask employees and job applicants for social media information.  Under the new law, an employer cannot require or request an employee or job applicant to disclose his username or password, access a social media account in front of the employer, or share any social media content with the employer.  However, there is an exception that allows an employer to ask an employee to divulge social media that is reasonably believed to be relevant to an investigation of allegations of employee misconduct or employee violation of applicable laws and regulations, provided that the social media is used solely for purposes of that investigation or a related proceeding.  The new law takes effect January 1, 2013.

With this new law, California joins Maryland and Illinois as the first states to have laws restricting employer access to employees’ social media accounts.  Fittingly, Governor Brown announced the new law via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and MySpace, saying that this law, and a companion law that establishes a similar privacy policy for postsecondary education students, will “protect Californians from unwarranted invasions of their social media accounts.”

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