April 10, 2012

Maryland Protects Employees’ Social Media

By Mark Wiletsky

According to various blogs, including a post by the ACLU, Maryland has become the first state to ban employers from requiring employees or applicants to provide access to their otherwise protected social media accounts.  I have not yet seen the text of the bill that Maryland passed, but the new law is not entirely surprising in light of the furor that recently erupted–which gained national media attention–based on reports of a few employers demanding access to applicants' or employees' Facebook and other social media accounts. Whether Maryland's law protecting employees' social media accounts is the first of many state laws, or even a new federal law, remains to be seen.  Regardless, this is yet another indication to employers to be cautious about social media.  Employees' use of and access to social media–both inside and away from the workplace–raises novel issues that courts and legislatures will have to address.  Until more definitive guidance is provided, be aware that your practices may need to modified and reviewed regularly to address this evolving area of the law. 

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