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It may soon be illegal for employers to gain access to jobseekers' social networking passwords if the governor signs the recently-approved measure.
State Rep. LaShawn Ford's (8th) bill passed both the Illinois House and Senate May 22 and has sent to Gov. Pat Quinn for his approval.
A spokesperson for Quinn said the governor has not received the bill ¡ª as the legislature has 30 days after a bill is approved to bring it to the governor ¡ª but once he does, he will review it.
Ford, whose district encompasses parts of Austin, said employers do not have the right to monitor or know every intimate detail of employee's private lives.
"Who we are friends with and what organizations we choose to support outside of work has nothing to do with whether we can do the job," Ford said in a written statement.
The bill, HB 3782, would prohibit employers to access any account information for social networking platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, among others. Melissa Williams, criminal justice committee chairwoman of the Westside Branch NAACP, said Ford's bill appeals to both Republicans and Democrats.
"It would really affect people's ability to get jobs and keep the jobs they have if they were required to give that password," Williams said. "That would be huge deal."
Employers are still allowed to look at the public profiles of current or potential employees. Williams said making it illegal for employers to have passwords is also a good idea for employers, because they wouldn't be held liable for something a worker did or said on a social network.
Maryland has a similar law on the books that bars employers from asking a job applicant to disclose a username or password to a social networking account, according to information provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Maryland's governor signed the measure on May 2.
At least 10 other states, including California, Delaware, and Michigan, are working to pass a version of the law.¡¡