California bans employers from asking for social media accounts

California has joined Maryland in passing legal limits on how your social media accounts can be accessed by employers and colleges. Two new bills signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown give new privacy rights to California residents. These laws are being examined in more states after a man was asked by his employer to turn over the user names and passwords of his social media accounts.

The first bill A.B. 1844, updates California’s Labor Code to significantly limit when employers could ask employees and job applicants for social media passwords and account information. However, the law permit employers to request an employee to divulge personal social media activity reasonably believed to be relevant to an investigation of allegations of employee misconduct or employee violation of applicable laws and regulations.

The other bill sets up similar rules for students entering college. The bill prohibits public and private institutions from requiring students, prospective students and student groups to disclose user names, passwords or other information about their use of social media. However, it still allows the use of social media in dealing with situations of student misconduct.

The laws will go into effect on January 1, 2013.