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Illinois Password Protection Legislation Signed Into Law


Chicago attorney Peter Gillespie was quoted in two publications about a new Illinois law that prohibits employers from demanding job applicants' and employees' social media passwords. Illinois is the second state to enact a law banning employers from demanding passwords or otherwise accessing the nonpublic portions of workers' social media profiles. It does, however, allow employers to view information that is not shielded by the owner with a privacy setting and does not prohibit employers from maintaining policies that govern their employees' access to social networking websites while at work. In the August 2 Business Insurance article "Illinois Password Protection Legislation Signed Into Law," Peter noted that the legislation also forbids firms from engaging in "shoulder surfing," where they direct the employee to view a social media page's nonpublic content while the employer watches.

In the August 2 Law360 article "Varied Facebook Password Laws Could Plague Employers" Peter said: "The statute itself was primarily intended to protect applicants from having to turn over Facebook passwords, but by sweeping in employees, the law ended up placing a potential land mine for employers who may have a legitimate reason for wanting to see what employees are putting on these sites. Employers trying to resolve workplace disputes might find themselves in hot water under the statute without realizing it." He noted that employers should be careful when creating policies and protocols for investigating issues involving, for example, online harassment or the dissemination of confidential information using social media websites.

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