ND Bill Would Prohibit Employers From Requesting Social Media Passwords From Employees

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Last year US Senator Richard Blumenthal introduced a bill that would prohibit employers from requesting the social media usernames/passwords from their employees. That bill never passed at the national level, but here in North Dakota Rep. Ben Hanson has introduced similar legislation that would also give a deceased person’s heirs rights to their social media accounts.

The legislation is HB1455.

This gets into some gray area for me. On one hand, I like the idea of the the heirs of decedents getting access to the social media accounts. It may seem trivial, but there can be a lot of precious information there not the least of which is pictures.

I also don’t like the idea of employers requesting social media passwords from prospective employees. Check out what the employees are making public on the internet? Sure. Request their passwords so you can see their private information? No thanks. If an employer had ever asked me to divulge that sort of information, I’d had turned down the job.

What bothers me though is imposing these policies on private social media companies, and private employers, through the force of law. Maybe it makes sense to define the rights heirs have to social media, and to empower individuals to provide for their social media accounts in their wills, but I’m not ever really comfortable with laws dictating the nature of the relationship between employer and employee.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Roy_Bean

    I think an employer should be able to ask for anything they want and an employee should be able to say no. Some jobs require more discression and confidentiality than others and that’s a way to fit the right person to the right job.

    • slackwarerobert

      And wouldn’t keeping quite and refusing to answer show you can keep a secret?

  • RCND

    I do somewhat equate this practice to an employer or potential employer being able to ask to see what you get in the mail at home. It is extremely inappropriate to do so, but they probably can as a condition of employment. With that in mind, they are depending on you to be totally honest and forthright in bringing in what you receive unless they intercept your mail, which would be illegal unless it is received at work.

    The same goes for Social Media. They in essence are depending on you to be forthright and honest in providing all your accounts and account info. Also, what you post publicly from anywhere, or what you post at work, can already be legally monitored by them.

  • Lianne

    In years before social media, they did not ask to see your snail mail, what you rec’d in your snail mail, nor with whom you corresponded. In the case of employment in high security, it may be warranted. In any other case, no. Many employers do drug testing and background checks. Those should tell them what they need to know.

    Mr. Hansen is fresh out of college, BA in political science from Moorehead. Need we say more than he is still quite wet behind the ears.

    I can not believe that this will pass, but stranger things have happened.

    • Lianne

      My deepest aologies to Mr. Hansen and Rob. I misread the article. I was doing two things at one time, and I should not do that. Privacy is so important.

  • The Fighting Czech

    Rob, you just answered your own solution to this “problem” If you dont want to provide the info your employer wants? Dont work there. more importantly we are seeing the lack of priority from our Politicians in Bismarck. Worrying about stupid things like Privacy, and Facebook (there’s an oxymoron for you) instead of budgets, and spending, and taxes, which should be the first job on the list. Tells me 80 days every other year are too many…

  • slackwarerobert

    But would I have to give them the password to decrypt my password? I don’t care, I have nothing to hide, my boss already knows if he is an elected official when the bullets fly I will feel bad about shooting him.

  • WOOF

    This is why you guys aren’t invited to the Secret Policemans’ Other Ball.
    Fill out a questionaire about religious ceremonies.
    How many times a week do you call your parents ?
    Do you have naked pictures of your mother?

    This is all going on your permanent record.

    • slackwarerobert

      No, but my great great aunt was a hotty decked out in her belly dancer getup. or is it deck out not in her outfit? Can’t remember ever calling parents if I didn’t need money, so would be zero. To old to have nakid pictures of myself, but have them of my son for all you boy scout leaders, he was an adorable zygot. Fortunately I have proof he was mine, he flipped off the doc and staff for dragging him out of there.

      That is the only sad thing now, when we were troublemakers there was no sign of the beast to trace us with, our sealed records are not only sealed, they are untraceable.

  • headward

    That’s a novel idea – don’t work at places you don’t want to provide or don’t like the environment. The anti-tobacco crowd(more like anti-freedom and liberty crowd) should have thought of that instead of pushing a smoking ban.

  • opinion8ed

    Two thoughts put the passwords in your will. There is zero chance in hell I would give any employer any password so that I can become his nightly gossip talk.

  • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com Goon

    I don’t think an employer has any right to go into your social accounts period. Anything that they need to see will be out there and subject to search on Bing or Goggle.

    As for Facebook, I guess while you’re going through the hiring process you could just deactivate your Facebook account and make any blog you don’t want to anyone to see inactive or for friend by invite either. Or not put anything on line that would put you in a disadvantage, or cause you not to be hired.

    I mean what next? Them asking if they can we look in your bank account? I know they can credit check you.. But that’s common practice.

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