News Release

Gov. Brown signs two social media privacy laws, protecting consumers on social networks

Bills ban employers and schools from requesting social media usernames and passwords.

San Francisco, CA – Earlier today, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed two measures protecting the privacy of social media accounts. The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) voiced its support for both S.B.1349 (Yee, D-San Francisco) and A.B 1844 (Campos, D-San Jose), and is pleased to see the privacy protections Californians currently enjoy extended to include social media and online sites as well.

“California is once again ahead of the curve when it comes to protecting online privacy” commented Jon Fox, CALPIRG’s Consumer Advocate, adding “Lawmakers have drawn the line, protecting the online privacy of both students and employees.”

Many online sites provide Californians with a platform to share private information with close friends and relatives. Sensitive personal information such as marital status, age, and religion can easily be gleaned from social media web sites. S.B. 1349 and A.B 1844 prohibit postsecondary educational institutions and employers, whether public or private, from requiring or requesting a student or an employee, or a prospective student or employee, to disclose the user name or account password for a personal social media account, or to otherwise provide the institution or employer with access to any content of that account.

Existing laws prohibit schools and employers from asking about certain personal information such as age, gender, or marital status,” noted Jon Fox. “Combined, these bills will protect Californians’ social networks from forced access and protect our private information.”

CALPIRG is concerned that reports of the growing number of businesses, public agencies and colleges asking job seekers, workers and students for their Facebook and Twitter account information is indicative of future trends that violate an individual’s right to privacy. By signing these two bills into law, California has established basic protections to curb these trends.

 

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The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) is a result-oriented public interest group that protects consumers, encourages a fair sustainable economy, and fosters responsive democratic governance.

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