Ban on demanding Facebook passwords among new 2013 state laws

Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:12am EST
 
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By James B. Kelleher

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Employers in California and Illinois will be prohibited from demanding access to workers' password-protected social networking accounts and teachers in Oregon will be required to report suspected student bullies thanks to new laws taking effect in 2013.

In all, more than 400 measures were enacted at the state level during 2012 and will become law in the new year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Some of the statutes, which deal with everything from consumer protection to gun control and healthcare, take effect at the stroke of midnight. Others will not kick in until later in the year.

The raft of measures includes a new abortion restriction in New Hampshire, public-employee pension reform in California and Alabama, same-sex marriage in Maryland, and a requirement that private insurers in Alaska cover autism in kids and young adults, NCSL said.

In New Hampshire, a rarely used form of late-term abortion will become illegal except to save the life of the mother - and even then only if two doctors from separate hospitals certify the procedure is medically necessary.

John Lynch, the state's outgoing Democratic governor, had vetoed the measure, saying it would threaten the lives of women in rural areas. But the state's Republican-controlled legislature later overrode him.

In California and Illinois, laws that take effect at 12:01 a.m. local time will make it illegal for bosses to request social networking passwords or non-public online account information from their employees or job applicants.

Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed a similar measure into law earlier this month that took effect immediately. The Michigan law also penalizes educational institutions for dismissing or failing to admit a student who does not provide passwords and other account information used to access private internet and email accounts, including social networks like Facebook and Twitter.   Continued...

 
The Facebook logo is shown at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California May 26, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith