New Hampshire Protects Social Media and Email Privacy

Social Media Background Checks

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A law that took effect in New Hampshire on September 30, 2014 – House Bill 1407 (HB 1407) – prohibits employers in the state from requiring employees or job applicants to disclose social media or electronic mail passwords. The final version of HB 1407 is available at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2014/HB1407.html.

Signed by New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, HB 1407 adds a subdivision titled “Use of Social Media and Electronic Mail” to the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated (RSA). Under HB 1407:

  • No employer shall request or require that an employee or prospective employee disclose login information for accessing any personal social media account or service through an electronic communication device.
  • No employer shall compel an employee or applicant to add anyone, including the employer or the employer’s agent, to a list of contacts associated with an electronic mail account or personal social media account or require an employee or applicant to reduce the privacy settings associated with any electronic mail or personal account that would affect a third party’s ability to view the contents of the account.
  • No employer shall take or threaten to take disciplinary action against any employee for such employee’s refusal to comply with a request or demand by the employer that violates HB 1407.

HB 1407 defines “personal account” as an account, service, or profile on a social media or social networking website that is used by a current or prospective employee primarily for personal communications unrelated to any business purposes of the employer. However, HR 1407 does not limit an employer’s right to:

  • Adopt and enforce lawful workplace policies governing the use of the employer’s electronic equipment, including policies regarding Internet use, social media or social networking site use, and electronic mail use.
  • Monitor usage of the employer’s electronic equipment and electronic mail.
  • Request or require an employee to disclose login information for access to: (1) An account or service provided by virtue of the employee’s employment relationship with the employer; or (2) An electronic communications device or online account paid for or supplied by the employer.

HR 1407 also does not prohibit an employer from obtaining information about an employee or prospective employee that is in the public domain or conducting an investigation under certain circumstances. Any New Hampshire employer that violates the new social media and email law shall be subject to a civil penalty to be imposed by the labor commissioner.

More Social Media Background Check Blogs from ESR News

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