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Recently, Illinois passed a new law that protects potential and current employees’ privacy rights. Effective January 1, 2013, House Bill 3782 makes it unlawful for an employer to request or require an employment applicant or employee to provide any password for the purpose of gaining access to the applicant or employee’s social media accounts. Also, the law prohibits employers from demanding any type of access to employee’s social media accounts. The reasoning behind the law is to protect workers from being punished for information that employers don’t legally have any rights to because that information would otherwise be private.

It is important to note that e-mail and information posted online to the general public are not protected by this new law. Also, workplace policies about restricting Internet use will be unaffected.

Illinois is the second state to enact a law of this kind; however, it is likely that similar legislation will follow in other states.