Know Your Rights

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “A growing number of employers and schools are demanding that job applicants and students hand over the passwords to their private social networking accounts.


Congress unsuccessfully attempted to address those concerns with the Social Networking Online Protection Act (“SNOPA”) in 2013. SNOPA would have prohibited employers and certain institutions of higher education from requesting passwords or social networking access from employees, applicants for employment, students or potential students, or from taking adverse actions against employees, students or potential students who declined to provide their passwords or access to their social media accounts. Unfortunately SNOPA was never enacted, despite being introduced three times by New York Congressman Eliot Engel.

Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia, however, have enacted, introduced or are studying legislation which would accomplish some or all of the goals of SNOPA. A summary of State Social Media Privacy Laws as of January 2, 2018, which includes citations to particular states’ laws, can be found at  here.

Unless and until a federal statute similar to SNOPA is signed into law, students, employees and potential students and employees would be well-served to familiarize themselves with their state’s laws, if any, relating to social media account and password privacy.