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article imageFacebook password laws take effect in five US states in 2013

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jan 1, 2013 in World
New laws that took effect 12:01 a.m, Jan. 1, prohibit employers in California and Illinois from demanding passwords of workers' social media accounts. Other states in which similar laws will take effect in 2013 are New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.
The Huffington Post reports that the new laws will make it illegal for employers to demand social networking passwords or non-public online account information from their employees or job applicants.
Policymic reports that in August, Illinois became the second state after Maryland to pass laws prohibiting employers from demanding access to the private social networking profiles of job applicants and employees.
According to The Inquistr, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, California and Illinois all passed laws making it illegal for employers to demand that employees and applicants provide passwords to their online social network accounts.
Nora Campos, speaker pro tempore of the California State Assembly, and lead author of the Facebook password law, said: “My legislation protects workers’ privacy. The legislation is necessary because there is a hole in existing law that prevents employers from intruding into an employee’s legal off-duty conduct.”
Policymic comments on the trend among employers in 2012: "It's hard to get a sense of exactly how many organizations engage in the practice. A June 2012 survey of 1,000 'C-Suite' or 'high level' executives, corporate counsel and human resources professionals from private companies, conducted by law firm Littler Mendelson found that only 1% of respondents had 'asked for social media logins as part of the hiring or onboarding process.'"
The website refers to the prominent 2010 case of Robert Collins, a Maryland corrections officer, who was returning to his job after a brief leave to attend to the death of a family member. In his “recertification interview,” he was asked to provide the password to his Facebook account. He was forced to stand by as an official scrutinized the private details of his account.
A public outcry followed revelation of the incident and forced the department to continue the inspection only as a "voluntary program," before the state finally passed the country's first password-protection law in May, 2012.
Policymic enumerates some of the negative effects of the intrusive practise:
"Even so-called 'voluntary,' invasive profile examinations can potentially reveal information that could be used to unlawfully discriminate among job seekers on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation, undermining established employment law protections.
"In addition, revealing a password to a social network that an employer, or potential employer neither controls nor maintains, compromises the security of one’s account, and also those of any other sites or people linked to it. Thus, information could be exposed that could be used to perpetrate a fraud or invite harassment and lead to legal action against companies."
The Huffington Post reports that in spite of the new protection laws, employees and applicants will still need to be careful about what they post online because employers may still use information about them posted publicly.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) says that the Facebook password laws are among more than 400 measures enacted at the state level during 2012 that take effect in 2013. According to The Huffington Post, some of the new laws that will take effect cover issues from consumer protection to gun control and healthcare.
Notable among them are new regulations restricting abortion in New Hampshire and same sex marriage in Maryland. According to The Huffiington Post, other laws that will take effect in 2013 include:
In California, prison workers and peace officers will now be prohibited from having sex with inmates and prisoners in transport.
In Illinois, sex offenders will be prohibited from distributing candy on Halloween, or playing Santa or the Easter Bunny.
In Oregon, employers won't be allowed to advertise a job vacancy if they won't consider applicants who are currently out of work.
In Kentucky, residents will be prohibited from releasing feral or wild hogs back into the wild and Illinois will ban the possession and sale of shark fins.
The Inquistr reports that Illinois is placing a ban on motorcycle wheelies. A fine of $1000 goes to anyone who "pops a wheelie while speeding." The state has also enacted a law that allows motorcycle riders to drive through "stale" red lights.
According to ABC, as of Jan. 1, it will no longer be illegal to flash your headlights in Florida to warn drivers about a speeding trap set by police.
In California, a new law allows "driverless" vehicles on the road. But the law requires there must be a human in the passenger’s seat of all computer-driven cars.
According to the Wellington Daily News, a new Wellington, Kansas law makes it illegal to have more than four cats in a home.
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