States ban social network snooping by employers

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States ban social network snooping by employers

No requirement to hand over Facebook passwords.

Employers in California and Illinois will be prohibited from demanding access to workers' password-protected social networking accounts and teachers in Oregon will be required to report suspected student bullies thanks to new laws taking effect in 2013.

In all, more than 400 measures were enacted at the state level during 2012 and will become law in the new year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Some of the statutes, which deal with everything from consumer protection to gun control and healthcare, took effect at the stroke of midnight. Others will not kick in until later in the year.

In California and Illinois, laws that took effect in the New Year made it illegal for bosses to request social networking passwords or non-public online account information from their employees or job applicants.

Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed a similar measure into law earlier this month that took effect immediately. The Michigan law also penalises educational institutions for dismissing or failing to admit a student who does not provide passwords and other account information used to access private internet and email accounts, including social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

But workers and job seekers in all three states will still need to be careful what they post online: Employers may continue to use publicly available social networking information. So inappropriate pictures, tweets and other social media indiscretions can still come back to haunt them.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Greg McCune and Nick Zieminski).

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