New York Bans Employers Requesting Personal Social Media Log-Ins
With the new year on the horizon, it is smart to be up on the latest laws that will be taken into effect in 2024. One big law in New York that will be going into effect is one prohibiting employers from accessing employees personal social media accounts.
New York Prohibits Employers Accessing Employees' Personal Social Media
I understand when employers and potential employers do background searches and look up people's social media. I totally get when employers want to get a sense of the potential employee and ensure that they are hiring someone who will best align with representing their company. That I get. What I don't get is employers requesting personal log-in information. Has that happened? Who is asking for that information? If I was in an interview or a meeting with my boss, and they asked for my personal account log-in information, I would leave! Fortunately, this won't be an issue in New York with a new bill going into effect March 12, 2024. But the fact this had to get signed into legislation must mean it was happening somewhere, right? If anyone has ever had this done to them, please message me on the app, or comment on social media.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill (A.836) that bans employers from requesting or requiring an employee's personal username, login information, passwords, or social media accounts as a condition of hiring, a condition of employment, or for use in a disciplinary action. The new law prohibits employers from requesting, requiring, or coercing employees and job applicants to:
- Disclose their username, password, or other log-in information used to access their personal account through an electronic communications device.
- Access their personal account in the employer's presence.
- Reproduce photos, videos, or other information contained in their personal account through means prohibited under the law.
What Defines "Personal Account" According to New York State?
Now, what constitutes a personal account? According to the bill, a "personal account" is defined as follows:
"Personal account" means an account or profile on an electronic medium where users may create, share, and view user-generated content, including uploading or downloading videos or still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant messages, or internet website profiles or locations that is used by an employee or an applicant exclusively for personal purposes.
Though employers will not be able to access personal accounts, they will have the right to access accounts owned by the employer. Employers may require employees to disclose their usernames, passwords, or other means of accessing "nonpersonal accounts" that provide access to the employer's internal computer or information systems. The new law also allows employers to request or require employees to disclose their log-in information to accounts that were provided by employers and are used for business purposes. Importantly, the employer must have provided the employee with prior notice of its right to request or require this information. Employers can also request or require employees to disclose their log-in information to an account the employer knows is used for business purposes.
See, this makes sense. The employer is in charge of things of this nature, and I understand why they would need to have access to and monitor such accounts. Honestly, I would've thought they would've had all that information anyway, especially if they are providing the accounts, but I guess not in all cases.
Employers Can Access Electronic Devices Owned By the Company in New York State
Though employers cannot request to access your personal devices, the new law does permit employers to access "electronic communication" devices that they pay for. This can happen when the employer’s payment for the device was conditioned on the employer retaining the right to access the device and the employee was given prior notice and “explicitly agreed” to such conditions. This is just a solid reason why you need to keep your work and your personal information and accounts separate.
Finally, the new law allows employers to access, obtain, or provide information from an employee’s account to comply with a court order, and to restrict or prohibit employees from accessing certain websites while using the employer’s network or electronic communications devices.
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Gallery Credit: Megan