Working to insure individual privacy protections in academic and workplace settings, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed An Act Relative to Social Media Privacy Protection, legislation co-sponsored by Senator Jason Lewis.
The bill prohibits any public or private institution providing elementary, secondary, or higher education from requiring a student or applicant to disclose a user name, password, or other means of access to a personal social media account or service. In addition, the bill prohibits any employer from requiring an employee or applicant to disclose a user name, password, or other means of access to a personal social media account or service.
The bill also prohibits any employer from requiring an employee or applicant, as a condition of employment or consideration for employment, to include any employer or employer’s agent on a list of contacts associated with a social media account or service. The legislation contains well thought-out exceptions, specifically whenever access is required by state or federal law, for any legally-required investigations, and for dual-purpose accounts under the federal Securities Exchange Act. Courts can also order access when appropriate in criminal or civil litigation.
“In the Internet Age, new computer programs and web applications emerge with great frequency,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “As we all seek to use these online tools and technologies responsibly, we must also be mindful of privacy considerations that accompany these innovations. I’m very pleased that the Senate is leading the way and taking these commonsense steps to protect individual privacy.”
More than twenty states have already passed similar laws, including every other New England state. Having passed the Senate, the legislation now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.