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Are Employers Really Asking for Social Media Logins and Passwords?

March 11, 2013

Last month, I discussed the recently introduced Ohio Senate Bill 45, which would prohibit employers "from requiring an applicant or employee to provide access to private electronic accounts of the applicant or employee." As I've earlier noted, this bill has many problems. One of its biggest problems, though, is whether an issue even exists that this type of legislation needs to address.

Last week, the Senate's Commerce & Labor Committee heard sponsor's testimony on the bill. Gary Daniels, the Associate Director of the ACLU of Ohio, was among those who testified in favor of this bill.

Daniels's testimony (which you can download in its entirety here), includes his unsubstantiated belief that this legislation is necessary to combat the "disturbing trend … developing across the country whereby prospective and current employers demand access to usernames and passwords…."

You would think that if the practice of employers requiring applicants and employees to disclose login and password information has reached epidemic proportions, I would have heard of or encountered at least one employer engaging in this practice. I haven't. At his Connecticut Employment Law Blog, Dan Schwartz calls these password privacy bills "an answer in search of a problem." I think Dan is spot on. Yet, is it possible that we are that far off-base, and the ACLU is correct?

Since my last survey (on the FMLA) worked out so well, I decided to try again. I'd like to gauge public opinion on whether employers are insisting on social media logins and passwords, or if this is an illusory problem trumped up by the news media and special interest groups.

Please take a few minutes to answer a short survey on your opinions about and personal experience with these issues. I'll keep the survey open through March 22, and publish the results the following week.

You can answer the survey at this link. I thank you in advance for the few moments of your time in responding.

Written by Jon Hyman, a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. For more information, contact Jon at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.