California Bill Would Apply Password Protection Law to Public Employers

Maryland's first-in-the-nation social media password protection bill was sparked by reports that a state agency asked an employee to provide his social media user names and passwords when he returned from a voluntary leave of absence. The incident attracted national attention, and state legislatures across the nation started considering similar measures.

California and Illinois subsequently joined Maryland in enacting laws limiting employer access to social media login credentials.

Despite the public-employer genesis of Maryland's statute, the California law does not regulate state agency access to an employee's social media accounts. Earlier this month, California Assembly Member Nora Campos (D) introduced A.B. 25, which would apply the new password protection provisions to public employees.

"California's unique constitutional right to privacy should extend into the digital age and apply evenly," Campos said in a Dec. 3 statement introducing A.B. 25. "Every employee, regardless of who employs them, deserves the same privacy rights."

Her swift move to amend the law is notable, in part, because Campos was the sponsor of the Assembly's password protection bill, A.B. 1844, during the prior legislative session.

New Jersey Joins States Protecting Students.

In September, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law a companion bill, S.B. 1349, which applied similar social media privacy protections to current and prospective students in the higher education setting. Delaware until recently had been the only other state with a similar law.

That changed earlier this month when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed A. 2879, which regulates higher education institutions' access to student or applicant social media accounts.

Copyright 2012, The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.