Checking in on state social media password laws

Looks like most states either now have or are actively considering laws to protect employees from having to turn over passwords to social media accounts. There's a terrific resource here, published by the National Conference of State Legislatures, that links to the relevant acts or bills and gives 2013 status reports for 35 states. (Here's a link to the NCSL report on 2012 activity.)

Arkansas state capitol

I like what I see in an Arkansas bill that appears to have become law in that state just this week. The Arkansas statute corrects two things that some of our panel of experts on found wanting in earlier state statutes:

  • Arkansas' law addresses the possibility that an employer may legitimately have an ownership or other interest in a person's social media account; and
  • it contemplates that email should be protected.

Here's how the new Arkansas statute defines social media:

"(A) 'Social media account' means a personal account with an electronic medium or service where users may create, share, or view user-generated content, including without limitation: (i) Videos; (ii) Photographs; (iii) Blogs; (iv) Podcasts; (v) Messages; (vi) Emails; or (vii) Website profiles or locations.

"(B) 'Social media account' does not include an account: (i) Opened by an employee at the request of an employer; (ii) Provided to an employee by an employer such as a company email account or other software program owned or operated exclusively by an employer; (iii) Setup by an employee on behalf of an employer; or (iv) Setup by an employee to impersonate an employer through the use of the employer's name, logos, or trademarks.

"(C) 'Social media account' includes without limitation an account established with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, or Instagram."

Arkansas' definition of social media is that first I've seen that goes ahead and lists out examples of existing, famous services that are supposed to meet the criteria. I think that's a good idea.

Photo of Arkansas Capital by L. Allen Brewer / Flickr.

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