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Business & Information Technology Summer Conference: legal considerations relating to workplace issues

Table of Contents ]

First, let's consider a few situations in school based situations:


Update: or

Utah becomes fifth state to protect accounts: Utah and New Mexico have joined the growing number of states that prohibit employers from requesting or requiring access to job applicants’ social networking accounts.

Joining Maryland, Illinois, California and Michigan, Utah passed employment social media privacy legislation on March 27, 2013, when Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law the Internet Employment Privacy Act (IEPA). The law bans employers from asking employees and job applicants to provide the login information for their personal Internet accounts.

H.B. 100
Status: March 26, 2013; Signed by Governor. Chapter 94.
Modifies provisions addressing labor in general and higher education to enact protections for personal Internet accounts; enacts the Internet Employment Privacy Act, including defining terms, permitting or prohibiting certain actions by an employer; provides that the chapter does not create certain duties; provides private right of action; enacts the Internet Postsecondary Education Privacy Act.


As of June 2012, "There is no federal law explicitly preventing potential employers from asking for Facebook passwords. Employers may even be able to ask for passwords of current employees. Some say that employers ask for passwords simply because they can. With gloomy unemployment rates, job applicants and employees alike give employers wide latitude to ask for things because people simply need the job" (Raymond Law Group LLC, 2012).

There are some states though that are implementing rules, "One state is banning the practice, and at least 10 other states have bills that have been introduced. A few courts have ruled that such requests violate the federal Stored Communications Act, but the US Supreme Court has not addressed this issue. This legal uncertainty leaves many workers on shaky legal ground" (Bennett-Smith, 2012).

See also:

Consider the situation of Robert Collins in the article "Problem: Job interviewer asks for Facebook password. Do you give it?"

If you question that article, here is another from PC Magazine in March of 2012, "House Republicans on Wednesday defeated an amendment that would have banned current or prospective employers from requiring workers to hand over personal passwords as a condition of keeping or getting a new job." It continues, though, with a warning from Facebook to employers, "The issue made headlines recently when it was reported that some employers were asking workers or applicants to hand over their Facebook passwords or allow employers to look over their shoulders as they clicked through their accounts. The publicity over the issue prompted Facebook to step up and say the practice was against its terms of service."

Things to know as a poster:

  1. Employers research you through a friend of a friend.
  2. Employers use deep Web searches.

Things to do if you want to protect yourself and your comments as a poster:

  1. Try looking yourself up every once in a while (,
  2. Don't trust privacy Settings
  3. Avoid negativity
  4. Internet conversations are (somewhat) indelible (not able to be removed)
  5. Be careful what you share
  6. It is OK to unfriend (Barrett-Poindexter, 2012)


California Law Addresses Social Media Privacy (Audio 1 min 54 sec)
January 04, 2013

Employers look at Facebook too
45% Employers use Facebook-Twitter to screen job candidates


Judge Forces Employer To Rehire Workers Who Vented On Facebook (9/2011)

Employees, If You Don't Want Us to Get Your Social Media Info in Discovery, Don't Post! (1/2013)

When You Can and Can't Fire Employees For Social Media Misbehavior (8/25/2011)


Is use primarily personal or professional? 
Should social technology/media sites be blocked at work?