May of 2012 will long be remembered as an important month for social media. First, Facebook plans to begin trading on the Nasdaq on May 18, 2012. Second, Maryland became the first state to pass a law prohibiting employers from requiring disclosure by employees and job applicants of their Facebook, Twitter and other private social media login information.
Maryland Senate Bill 433 and House Bill 964, which were signed into law by Governor O’Malley at the beginning of May, specifically provide that an employer “may not request or require that an employee or applicant disclose any user name, password or other means for accessing a personal account or service through an electronic communications device.” The Bills continue to state that an employer may not fire or discipline an existing employee, or refuse to hire an applicant, based on a refusal to disclose that information.
Seen as a boost for protection of employees’ privacy, this law takes effect October 1, 2012.