Maine Enacts New Social Media Privacy Law

SocialMedia

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A newly enacted law in Maine – LD 686, HP 467, An Act To Promote Privacy in Social Media – will protect the social media privacy of employees and job applicants law by prohibiting employers from requiring employees or job applicants to disclose passwords or any other means for accessing their personal social media accounts. The new law takes effect October 15, 2015.

The Maine social media privacy law prohibits an employer from requiring an employee or job applicant to access personal social media accounts or disclose personal social media account information in the presence of the employer, except when the employers reasonably believe that information is relevant to an investigation of alleged employee misconduct or workplace-related violation of laws.

The new social media privacy law prohibits an employer from requiring an employee or applicant to add anyone, including the employer, to the employee’s or job applicant’s list of contacts on a personal social media account, or to alter settings that affect a 3rd party’s ability to view the personal social media account. The law does not apply to publicly available information about an employee or applicant.

The new Maine social media privacy law defines a “Social media account” as videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, e-mail, online service accounts, and Internet website profiles and locations. “Social media account” does not include an account opened at an employer’s request or provided by an employer or intended to be used primarily for an employer.

According to National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), twenty-one states currently have enacted social media privacy laws that prevent employers from requesting passwords to personal Internet accounts from job applicants and employees in order to get or keep a job. The full text of the new social media privacy law in Maine is available here.

ESR Whitepaper on Potential Dangers of Social Media Background Checks

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) provides employers information about the potential legal risks when using “social media background checks” to screen job applicants in the complimentary ESR whitepaper “Ten Potential Dangers When Using Social Media Background Checks.” To download the whitepaper, please visit www.esrcheck.com/whitepapers/social-media-background-checks/.

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