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Social Networking Privacy Bill SNOPA Reintroduced in Congress

by Jane Susskind, published

Social Networking Privacy Bill SNOPA

First introduced in May 2012, the Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA) has been reintroduced in Congress in an effort to bar employers from requesting employees provide social media usernames, passwords, or other personal information. Tweet the news: Tweet

While legislation similar to this has passed in states across America, like California,  this would provide nationwide clarity on the illusive realm of social media and law.

Currently, the lack of legislation in this area of law means that employees unaware of their rights willingly hand over their personal accounts, in fear that failure to do so will result in the loss of their job. Infringing on our personal rights to privacy, employers will continue to request this information if not legislation is in place.

Authors of the bill, Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Jan Schakowsky (D-I.L.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) wrote in a column featured on The Hill last May,

"Frankly, when there are no laws prohibiting institutions from requiring this information, it becomes a common practice. Social media sites have become a widespread communications tool – both personally and professionally – all across the world." Tweet Quote: Tweet

SNOPA Social Networking Privacy Bill would also apply these restrictions to the education sector, disallowing educational institutions, be it schools, colleges, or universities, from asking for personal social media information from students. Children, as argued by the authors of SNOPA, are "often unable to properly defend their own rights to the same extent as adults are able," making the application of this bill to schools a necessary protection of privacy.

Bradley Shear, Maryland attorney involved in the state's recent legislation, praised the legislation in a phone interview with ABC News, citing, "It protects the personal privacy of students, student applicants, job applicants and employees," he said. "It also provides a legal liability shield for employers, businesses and schools. This is a comprehensive and positive piece of legislation." Tweet quote: Tweet

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