The new year brings with it a number of things, including new laws. One of those laws, going into effect in California and Illinois, seek to protect your privacy during the employee screening process.
At 12:01 a.m. on Monday morning, a new law went into effect banning employers from requesting Facebook passwords from potential or current employees. The law is in response to a growing, and rather disturbing, trend of employers demanding Facebook passwords as part of the employment process. The argument is that employers need to know everything about a potential employee, and that apparently now includes somebody's personal life on social networks.
Of course, the new law doesn't give you free reign to post whatever you like on social networks. The law only bans the practice of asking for passwords. Employers still have the right to dig through the Internet finding whatever they can on you and your habits. You might want to start hiding all of those embarrassing pictures of yourself at college parties. Public tweets and other online profiles are also fair game for the potential employer.
Still, these kind of laws should receive national attention. Not every state values privacy as much as the next, and a federal law banning the practice would be a small win for privacy in a year where individual privacy is being stamped out left and right. New York Rep. Eilot Engel introduced SNOPA last year to stop the practice, but the bill has not even made it past committee since April of last year so chances of passage are slim.
As of now, only California, Illinois and Michigan have laws on the books banning employers from asking for social network passwords. It could take a while for other states to come around to passing such bills if nothing is done on the federal level this year.[h/t: Daily Tech]