Florida Bill Would Ban Employers From Asking for Access to Your Facebook and Twitter Accounts

Are you still tagged in Facebook photos from that time you went to a drunken "Anything but Clothes" party in college? Have a habit of tweeting out your strongly worded controversial political opinions? Maybe your Instagram feed is littered with a few thirst-trap picture? Sure, we've all posted things we'd rather not have our bosses see, and a bill under discussion in the Florida Senate would protect you from your any potential employer's e-stalking. 

Introduced by Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Palm Beach), the social media privacy bill would make it illegal in the state for an employer to ask for any usernames or passwords to social media accounts. Sure, a potential employer could do a Google search and turn up anything that's publicly available, but the law would make sure that things you mean to stay private remain that way during a job search. 

"Increasingly, employers have used social media to monitor employees’ behavior outside the workplace and to screen applicants for employment," the bill's analysis reads. "Employers indicate that reviewing information about prospective employees available online helps reduce legal liability associated with negligent hiring or may be used to discover or investigate otherwise impermissible behavior such as harassment of a co-worker. However, access to social media accounts may also provide the employer information that it would not legally be permissible to inquire of an employee or an applicant, such as the nature of an individual’s disability." 

In other words, while the bill would keep any of your social media sheninigans hidden, it would also prevent employers from finding out any information they're not allowed to ask about anyway, such as a person's disability. 

However, the bill would still allow employers to ask for access to social media accounts that are explicitly used for work purposes. 

The bill has already passed the Commerce and Tourism committee by a vote of five to one and is awaiting hearing in the Judiciary and Rules Committee. Meanwhile, the House version has been referred to three committees, but none of them has moved on the bill yet. That's not surprising in the Republican-led Legislature, where bills introduced by Democrats, no matter how seemingly sensical, aren't exactly a priority. 

Similar laws are already on the books in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. 

Meanwhile, another social media bill, one that lets Floridians decide who gets access to their online accounts after they die, is expected to be passed in the House and make its way to Gov. Rick Scott's desk. 

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