Bi-Partisan Social Media Bill Gains Momentum

A bill prohibiting requesting or requiring an employee, student or applicant to disclose a user name or password for a personal social media account, like Facebook or Twitter, is gathering broad bi-partisan support ahead of next month’s floor period.

The bill, AB218/SB223, which is sponsored by political odd-couple Sen. Glen Grothman (R-West Bend) and Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison), would place the prohibition on any employer, educational institution or landlord in an effort to protect any employee, job applicant, prospective student, tenant or prospective tenant. The proposal would also prohibit retaliation against any person for refusing to comply with such a request.

While passwords and user names would remain private, employers could still monitor what is done on a company computer, restrict which websites can be viewed, and conduct investigations into any unauthorized sharing of confidential business information through social media sites. The bill sponsors are also working on an amendment that would ensure the bill does not prevent inquiries into online bullying or sexting at school or online harassment at the workplace.

Wisconsin is not alone in considering such legislation. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, over 30 states have taken up the subject.