Illinois passes social media privacy law to safeguard employee passwords

Law is similar to existing legislation in Maryland and Delaware

Illinois job applicants and employees can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they can keep their digital lives private.

On Wednesday, Illinois became the third state to pass a law that bars employers from requiring job applicants or employees to disclose their social media account passwords. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2013, and aims to tackle potential discrimination arising from such online snooping.

“We’re dealing with 21st-century issues,” Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said. “Privacy is a fundamental right. I believe that and I think we need to fight for that.”

Similar online privacy laws already exist in Maryland and Delaware, and a handful of other states are currently working on similar bills. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports that at least 15 states have introduced some kind of social media privacy legislation. Additionally, the House of Representatives is considering the Social Networking Online Protection Act, which would prohibit employers nationwide from requiring job applicants to disclose their social media passwords as a condition of employment.

Read the Chicago Tribune and Washington Post for more information about the new law.

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