On March 14th, I blogged about legislation proposed in the State of Maryland (S.B. 971) that would have, for the first time, expressly prohibited employers from requiring current employees and applicants to disclose their “user name or password for any Internet site or web-based account”, unless such disclosure is required for access to the employer’s own internal computer or systems. In addition, the bill would have made it unlawful to discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize an employee or applicant (or threaten to do so) for refusing to disclose such information to the employer.
While novel, the issue was apparently not sufficient front burner material prior to the Maryland legislature’s summer vacation. Although the bill was referred for consideration in March to the Senate Finance Committee, that Committee did not take any action on the bill prior to the legislature closing its 2011 legislative session for the year this month.
Employer Take Away: What should you as an employer take away from this development? Although bills are not automatically carried over to the following year’s legislative session in Maryland, this development is worth watching when the legislature does resume. It is also worth watching whether other jurisdictions follow Maryland’s lead and begin to address legislatively the increase in demand by employers for profile names, passwords and other types of social media information from their employees.
We will continue to monitor this development and provide updates to you.