Maryland bans employers from requesting social media passwords

A bill that would prohibit employers from asking current and potential employees for their login information to social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, has passed the General Assembly in Maryland and is now awaiting signature from Gov. Martin O'Malley, reports The Baltimore Sun. The bill is the first of its kind in the USA.

According to Melissa Goemann, Legislative Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, lawmakers successfully reconciled the bills before the end of the legislative session Monday. The bill passed unanimously in the Maryland Senate, and with a large majority in the House. However, Governor O'Malley's stance on the bill is unknown.

While the practice of employers asking employees for usernames and passwords to social networking sites is still fairly uncommon nationally, Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said that the company has seen a "distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people's Facebook profiles or private information."

"We're really excited," Goemann said of the bill's passage. "We just think this is a really positive development, because the technology for social media is expanding every year, and we think this sets a really good precedent for limiting how much your privacy can be exposed when you use these mediums."

"Nationally, the ACLU is really interested in the issue, so I think we'll probably see some other states introduce legislation," Goemann said.

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