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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      House Committee on Education and the Workforce
      Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education
      Higher Education and Workforce Training
      Workforce Protections
    IntroducedFebruary 6th, 2013

What is it?

If you're employed or applying for a job, H.R. 537 would stop employers from requesting access to your social media accounts as a condition of employment.

Employers would be barred from:

  • Requiring or requesting that an employee or job applicant provide a username, password, or other means of access to a private email account or a social networking website.

  • Terminating, disciplining, discriminating against, denying promotion or employment to, or threatening any of these actions against an employee who refuses to provide this information.

    • Employees and applicants may file a complaint, or testify in a proceeding that the employer’s actions violated this Act.


Employer violations could be punished with civil penalties or an injunction brought forward by the Secretary of Labor. If brought to a U.S. district court, an offending employer could be forced to reinstate employment, promote, or compensate lost wages and benefits to a wronged employee.


Students and potential students would also be protected under H.R. 537. Colleges and local school districts would be banned from requesting the aforementioned prohibited information.


And if a student/potential student declines to offer their social media information, educational institutions would not be allowed to take any of the following actions against them:

  • Denial of admission.

  • Suspension.

  • Expulsion.

  • Other forms of discipline or discrimination.

Impact

Employees, job applicants, and students with social media accounts, employers, school districts, universities.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth:

The American Civil Liberties Union has noted that this legislation contains exceptions for states to exempt government workers and employees that work with children under age 13. It also found that the executive branch could exempt entire categories of workers if they have access to classified information, so soldiers and intelligence personnel wouldn’t be protected.


Another organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, found that this legislation would not prevent school districts and colleges from monitoring the public social media accounts of students who haven’t made their accounts private.


While federal privacy law has lagged significantly behind the increasing popularity of social networking websites, states have started taking action to clarify the rights of employees and students. In 2014, there were 28 state legislatures that considered similar legislation to protect the privacy of employees and students. Since 2012, there have been 23 states that adopted various laws addressing the issue of social media privacy.


Media:

Sponsoring Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) Press Release

The Hill - Joint Statement from Co-Sponsoring Reps.

ABC News

LA Times

Washington Post

Society of Human Resource Management

Forbes

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Robert Scoble)

AKA

Social Networking Online Protection Act

Official Title

To prohibit employers and certain other entities from requiring or requesting that employees and certain other individuals provide a user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account on any social networking website.