Wis. Assembly passes internet privacy bill

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Employers in Wisconsin might no longer be able to 'snoop around' their potential employees’ private social media sites.

The bill that prohibits employers to force potential employees to hand over passwords and login information to their private social media or email accounts was approved by the Assembly on Tuesday.

Now, with an amendment that clarifies what employers can and cannot do with the employee’s private social media information, the bill is headed to senate for approval.

“An interview process, it’s usually checking my availability of when I can work, any conflicts with that,” said UW Eau Claire Freshman Chaurette.

“Past employment history, usually your race is on there; things of that nature, criminal records,” said UW Eau Claire Junior Jordan Aufderhar about his previous job interview experiences.

Senate Bill 223 will make it illegal for an employer to ask more than just that typical set of questions; specifically social media confidential access information.
Mindy Dale who has been practicing employment law for 25 years says the bill has a few exceptions.

“If an employee is using a work computer an employer has the right to ask the employee for the password that the employee is using to access the company computer,” explained Dale.

Dale says if employers have a reason to believe employee's social media sites have evidence of company misconduct or that the employee has misappropriated confidential company information, the company can then ask to allow access the employee’s media site, but still not to surrender their login information.

“If I choice to make my Facebook private it's for specific reasons, giving me the right to my privacy,” said Chaurette.

The bill is directly aimed to do just that, protect privacy.
But Dale says what's public on social media, for employers stays a fair game.

“Everyone should be reminded that you can’t guarantee privacy,” she said.
“Everything that you post, you can't guarantee that it stays private.”

Chaurette hopes she's never asked to give up her passwords at future job interviews. And Dale says for that, if the bill passes, any employee could be fined up to 1000 dollars.

“You can file a complaint with the Department of Workforce Development and they would be handled as any type of discrimination complaint would be,” added Dale.

The bill also makes it against the law for universities and landlords to ask potential student and tenants to surrender their private social media information as well. You can find the link to the bill on the side of this story.

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