Social Media Passwords Protected for NJ, Del. Students

It's illegal for higher education institutions to ask for Twitter & Facebook passwords from students and applicants but employers can continue to do so at this point

By Dan Stamm
|  Wednesday, Jan 2, 2013  |  Updated 12:51 PM EDT
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Social Media Passwords Protected for NJ, Del. Students

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In 2013, access to personal social media passwords in Delaware and New Jersey isn’t as easy as before.

The bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures reported that the First State and Garden State joined California, Illinois, Maryland and Michigan in passing laws that prohibit companies and/or universities from asking for employees or applicants to share their personal-use Facebook, Twitter and other social media user names or passwords.

In reality, New Jersey and Delaware only enacted laws in the past few months that protect the sensitive social media information of students or applicants to higher education institutions, not jobs.

Last month, Gov. Chris Christie signed Assembly Bill 2879/Senate Bill 1916, which prohibits public or private colleges and universities from requiring that students disclose social media passwords or user names and from requiring a student/applicant to waive his or her rights to this protection.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed a similar law in July called the “Education Privacy Act.”

An academic institution shall not request or require that a student or applicant disclose any password or other related account information in order to gain access to the student’s or applicant’s social networking site profile or account by way of an electronic communication device.

An academic institution shall not require or request that a student or applicant log onto a social networking site, mail account, or any other internet site or application by way of an electronic communication device in the presence of an agent of the institution so as to provide the institution access.

N.J. Assembly Bill 2878, which “prohibits requirement to disclose user name, password, or other means for accessing account or service through electronic communications device by employers,” is back in front of the Assembly after amendments.

Delware House Bill 308, which would put similar prohibitions on employers failed to pass and would need to be reintroduced and signed by the governor to become law.

In Pennsylvania, State Rep. Jesse White (D-46th) introduced House Bill 2322, which would protect social media passwords and user names from employer access. That bill never made it out of committee.

 


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