Employers and post-secondary institutions may soon have minimized access to the Facebook and Twitter accounts of employees or students.
State Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, has introduced three bills — House Bills 2092, 2093 and 2094 — that are each directed at a different aspect of electronic privacy.
Under HB 2092, an employer may not request or demand access to the social media accounts of an employee or potential employee.
“From someone’s Facebook or Twitter account, they can get their race, age, identity and a lot of their personal information that, on a federal level, is illegal to ask,” Finney said. “It would be illegal for an employer to come to my home physically for that information, and my social media home is no different.”
Kansas isn’t the only state concerned with online privacy. Other state legislators have already implemented laws regarding social media. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey passed legislation last year that prohibits requesting or demanding access to the social media accounts of applicants, students or employees. A total of 14 states introduced legislation in 2012 that restricts employers from requesting social media user names and passwords.
Finney did acknowledge that accessing social media profiles could benefit employers during the hiring process.
“They want to make sure that they are hiring someone with integrity. They want to look at their credibility and character, and I can understand that,” Finney said. “However, I just don’t think it’s right.”
HB 2094 would give the same rights to students at public and private colleges and universities.
The third bill aims to protect the identities of social media users by prohibiting someone from creating false accounts on social media websites for the purpose of harassment. For example, an individual could not identify himself or herself under the name or photo of someone else without consent.
“I’m a Facebook user, a Twitter user, and I see a lot of activity,” Finney said. “This is a matter of personal privacy.”