Senate to Hear Ban on Employers, Schools Demanding Social Media Account Info

By ·

Gated House by Cris Pierry on Flickr/Creative Commons

Gated House by Cris Pierry on Flickr/Creative Commons

The Massachusetts Senate is expected to vote on a bill Wednesday that would prohibit employers and universities from requiring disclosure of social media account information.

The bill, sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem, would apply to both public and private educational institutions. It also includes exemptions for school investigations, as well as employers in the financial and securities sector.

“We now are in a world of social media,” Creem, a Newton Democrat, told the State House News Service. “People don’t have diaries. People don’t have private letters. It’s all done on the internet and that should have the same privacy that somebody had when they had a diary in their drawer. It shouldn’t be any different.”

Under Creem’s bill, no educational institution may request your username or password. Athletic officials may not require a student or applicant to “friend” them as a “condition of acceptance or participation in curricular or extracurricular activities,” nor can they impose any sort of penalty for refusing.

Similarly, employers would be prohibited from making the disclosure of social media account information a condition of employment. However, employers would still reserve the right to ban the use of social media while on the job.

The bill does allow employers to request access to social media accounts so long as they comply with the requirements of “state or federal statutes, rules or regulations; legally mandated investigations of employees’ actions; [and] judicial directives,” so long as any access is limited to identifying relevant evidence.

Though a similar bill passed 39-0 in the Senate last summer, it died in the House Ways and Means Committee. An aide for Creem told SHNS this new version better clarifies its exemptions. If successful, the bill would move to the House, where informal sessions run through December, and formal sessions, next January through July.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2015/11/16/massachusetts-social-media-privacy-bill/