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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