Guest Post by Nakia Gray
I’ve always known that there has to be some good reason that Maryland is known as the “Free State.” In an effort to ensure that the State lives up to its nickname, the Maryland State Legislature passed a bill that prevents managers from snooping on password-protected content, a practice that supporters of the bill argue violates privacy and intimidates job seekers and employees. The bill provides protection to Marylanders by preventing employers and potential employers from demanding them to hand over passwords to Facebook or Twitter accounts before giving them a job.
Robert Collins, a former corrections officer in Maryland, said he was asked for his Facebook account information while being recertified for his job following a leave of absence.
“It almost seemed that my compliance was compulsory.” Collins told the Washington Post.
Collins complied with the request but felt very uneasy. He sought advice from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) afterwards and that’s what sparked this investigation and proposed change to the law.
It is not officially a law in Maryland just yet, Governor Martin O’Malley is still reviewing the bill. If O’Malley signs it, Maryland will be the first state to speak up about what I consider broad overreaching by employers.
As technology has developed and we all seem to be living our lives online, people should feel that use of the computer and online activities can be trusted and private. Otherwise would be completely contrary to what we’ve been taught over the years…the internet is safe and can be trusted.
I can’t think of any reason, other than plain nosiness, that would warrant an employer invading an employee’s privacy by perusing their social media profiles.
Hopefully the bill is signed into law and more states step up to the plate and do the same.