In a significant development, a newly enacted law in New York is set to protect the privacy of job applicants and employees by prohibiting employers from requesting access to their social media passwords. This legislation aims to prevent the invasion of personal privacy and ensure fair employment practices.
- New Legislation: There is now enactment on a recent law that prevents employers from requesting access to job applicants’ and employees’ social media accounts. This includes popular platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.
- Sponsor’s Persistence: Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz spent 12 advocating for this legislation. It was finally signed into law by the Governor.
- Privacy Protection: The law aims to safeguard individuals’ privacy in the workplace. It prohibits employers from demanding login information for personal social media accounts.
- Balancing the Scales: Dinowitz argues that this law is necessary to prevent the unfair invasion of privacy. It also helps level the playing field between employers and employees. People may feel compelled to comply with such requests to keep their jobs or secure new positions.
- Potential Prevalence: Smaller employers may be more likely to request access to personal social media accounts, especially for tasks like marketing or promoting the employer’s business.
- Disciplinary Measures: Employers used this practice to monitor employees’ online activity. It was to ensure they weren’t speaking negatively about the company on their personal accounts.
- Clear Account Distinction: Experts anticipate that employers must establish clear boundaries between personal and professional social media accounts in response to the new law.
- Exemptions: Certain groups, such as law enforcement, fire department employees, and corrections officers, are exempt from this legislation. Meaning the new law doesn’t apply to them.
Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz, who has tirelessly championed this legislation for 12 years, shared his motivation behind the bill’s passage. He stated, “For the most part, it was stories that I read about situations where people’s privacy was being invaded really inappropriately.” On Tuesday, the Governor finally signed the bill which Jeffrey Dinowitz sponsored.
Dinowitz emphasized the importance of maintaining individuals’ privacy rights in the job market. He said, “You know if you want to Google somebody or go on their public Facebook page…knock yourself out. But to get private information is wrong, it’s not fair, and it also gives the employer an unfair advantage because people will be very reluctant to say ‘no’ if they want to keep their job or get a job. So this really balances the scales, I think.”
Legal expert Jared Cook, an attorney with Tully Rinckey, pointed out that the practice of requesting personal passwords may be more prevalent among smaller employers. He noted, “So, if their employer asks them to use their personal account to do some sort of marketing or to promote the employer’s business through their personal social media accounts, that’s where you’d probably see employers asking for this information more than other types of jobs.”
Cook also explained that some employers might seek this information for disciplinary reasons. “If they want to say, ‘Oh, well, we want to see what you’re saying about us on your personal account, and we want to monitor our employees and make sure they’re not bad-talking us on the Internet.’ Understandably, an employer would not want that to be going on. But with this new law you cannot require your employee; you cannot ask them even.”
Experts predict that this legislation will lead employers to establish a clear distinction between personal and business-related social media accounts. It is worth noting that the new law does not cover certain categories of employees, such as law enforcement, fire department personnel, or corrections employees.