On September 27, 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill No. 1844 that will, in his words, “protect Californians from unwarranted invasions of their social media accounts.” Effective January 1, 2013, employers and colleges will be prohibited from requiring prospective applicants to provide access to their social media sites.
Specifically, the new law prohibits employers and colleges from asking prospective candidates
In addition, the new law bans employers from penalizing, discharging, threatening to discharge or discipline, or otherwise retaliating against employees or applicants that do not comply with employer requests or demands that violate the statute.
The law also provides limited exceptions to these restrictions. For example, the law does not apply to electronic devices issued by employers or in cases where the employer seeks such information related to a misconduct investigation.
It has been noted that other states have been enacting and/ or contemplating similar statutes. Maryland was the first state to enact social privacy legislation in May 2012. In all, fourteen states introduced or passed legislation in 2012 that would restrict employers from requesting access to social networking usernames and passwords of applicants or employees, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Federal legislation regarding social medial privacy has also been introduced under the Password Protection Act of 2012.
Even though these social media laws attempt to protect the privacy of applicants and employees of financial services firms, they pose significant difficulties for broker-dealers seeking to supervise the social media activities of their associated persons. ACA recommends that firms that have not already done so update their written policies to reflect the restrictions on requesting access to social media sites. Broker-dealers should also ensure that supervisors and those who interview employees have received adequate training on their firm’s social media policy.
For more information on this issue or to learn more about the conflicts between state privacy provisions and broker-dealer regulation, please contact your ACA Consultant or Dee Stafford at (561) 988-3310 or via email@example.com.