Illinois lawmakers recently sent a bill to prevent employers from requesting access to social networking sites to Governor Pat Quinn, who said he would consider signing it. Pending the Governor’s approval, the bill would make Illinois the second state, following Maryland, to pass a law safeguarding employees’ social networking privacy rights.

House Bill (HB) 3782 would bar employers from asking existing or prospective employees for passwords or other information to access their accounts on social networking websites. It expressly prohibits employers from demanding access “in any manner” to those accounts.

The law would not limit an employer’s right to:

  • maintain lawful workplace policies governing the use of the employer’s electronic equipment, including policies regarding use of the Internet, social networking sites, and email
  • monitor use of the employer’s electronic equipment and e-mail, so long as it does not request passwords or account information to access social networking accounts
  • obtain information about present or prospective employees that is in the public domain

Employers should ensure that supervisors, managers and others with hiring authority are aware of the legislation and prepared to comply should it receive the Governor’s approval