Editors’ Note: Colleen Marshall, a Senior Attorney in Porter Wright’s Litigation Department, is also a widely-recognized, award-winning news anchor for Columbus’ NBC-affiliate, WCMH – 4. In a detailed interview with Porter Wright’s Sara Jodka last week, Colleen reports on the use of social media by employers: “You Can’t Delete Your Way Out Of Social Media.”
As noted in a recent blog post and in the news report mentioned above, 21 states have social media privacy legislation pending. But, social media privacy could soon be governed by an act of Congress.
Representative Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.) just introduced H. R. 537, the “Social Networking Online Protection Act” that he says will protect both employees and job applicants from employer efforts to obtain passwords to private social media accounts. Unlike most laws currently being considered on the state level, Engel’s bill would also protect passwords to email accounts. The bill is currently in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and makes a critical distinction between private accounts and social networking accounts owned by employers but maintained by employees in the course of employment.
Ohio Senate Bill 45, the Social Media Privacy Protection Act, is the most recent state effort to prohibit employers from gaining access to private electronic accounts, such as Facebook. Ohio 15th District Senator Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus) introduced the bill in an effort to prohibit employers, employment agencies, personnel placement services, and labor organizations from requiring an applicant or existing employee to surrender their personal …