California passes social media privacy law

Under a new California law, it is illegal for employers or admissions officers to require applicants to hand over their social media usernames and passwords.

Listen up social media addicts, in California at least, you will no longer have to feel pressure to divulge your Facebook user name and password. Earlier this year, there were reports of college admissions officers asking students for their passwords. That led to outrage and eventually to legislation.

"These social media accounts are really private matters," says California state Senator Leland Yee, a Democrat who authored the new law. "It contains personal information, no one ever thought that this information would be then made contingent for admission into a college and university"

What you put on a social media site shouldn't affect your employment either, says Democratic Assemblywoman Nora Campos. She authored another law that protects private sector workers.

"An employer does not have access to your personal photo album at home and does not have the ability to ask you questions on your marital status, who you're dating…Those are a lot of the things people post," says Campos. 

The laws that protect social media privacy were passed with little opposition. They both take effect on January first.

About the author

Amy Quinton is a public radio reporter.


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