Columbus – Senator Charleta B. Tavares has introduced Senate Bill 45, the Social Media Privacy Protection Act, which would prohibit employers, employment agencies, personnel placement services, and labor organizations from requiring an applicant or existing employee to provide access to private electronic accounts such as Facebook. The bill does not apply to work related electronic accounts.  

This bill is in response to the recent trend both in Ohio and throughout the country of employers requiring current staff and potential employees to provide passwords to various social media sites with which they have a public profile.

“This bill is an effort to correct the invasion of the privacy of individuals who simply want to work. Employees should not have to give the keys to their personal and private information just to gain or maintain employment,” stated Senator Charleta B. Tavares.

Although it is well known that employers search for the public profiles of potential employees in order to make judgments about the applicant character and personality; however, requesting access to that individual’s personal profile reaches far beyond that scope. Tavares’ legislation would also seek to prevent any adverse action such as discharge, discipline, threaten to discharge or discipline, or refuse to hire if an employee refuses to disclose his/her username and/or password.

Also, this bill does not prohibit an employer, employment agency, personnel placement service, or labor organization from monitoring the electronic accounts of employees or applicants on the internet system of the employer, employment agency, personnel placement service, or labor organization.

Six states have passed similar legislation in 2012: California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey.  In this year alone, 2013, twenty-one states have introduced or have pending legislation concerning this issue.

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