Michigan Joins Other States to Ban Requiring Social Media Passwords

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House Bill 5523, introduced by Reps. Aric Nesbitt and Paul Opsommer, would bar employers and educational institutions from requiring employees, job applicants, students and prospective students to disclose their passwords, usernames or log-in information to social networking sites. The bill would also bar employers and educational institutions from discharging, disciplining, failing to hire or otherwise discriminating against employees or applicants who do not disclose the information.

Violations could be prosecuted as misdemeanors bearing a maximum fine of $1,000. Affected parties could also sue the employer or educational district involved for actual damages, attorney’s fees and court costs. In such a lawsuit, the maximum recovery for actual damages would be capped at $1,000.

Opsommer explained the impetus for the bill to a reporter for the news website StateNews.com.

“If 50 years ago, as part of the interview process, an employer said they needed to look through your mail, or put a bug on your phone before they would hire you, there is no way the practice would be tolerated,” he stated.

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