Social media privacy bill advances

Published On: Feb 08 2013 12:06:00 PM HST

The state House Committee on Labor and Public Employment advanced a bill Friday that would prevent employers from accessing a prospective employee's Facebook page, or other social media accounts.

The vote was unanimous, 9-0.  The measure was introduced by Rep. Kaniela Ing, a Democrat who represents Kihei, Wailea and Makena on the island of Maui.

"I read more and more stories about businesses and corporations asking for social media accounts, and I don't think they have that right," Ing told KITV4 News. "You're not allowed to look inside someone's home, or go through their mailbox, and I think there are some parallels there."

Ing's bill was passed with amendments, the most notable, an exemption that allows law enforcement agencies to access a prospective employee's social media accounts before making a decision on hiring.

In written testimony, Maj. Alan Bluemke of the Honolulu Police Department's Human Resources Division said, "Vital information regarding the ethical and moral character of an applicant can be found through the social media," and the bill would "limit HPD's ability to thoroughly screen recruit and civilian applicants with the highest levels of integrity to serve the City and County of Honolulu."

The bill also prevents an employer from accessing social media accounts in the presence of an applicant, or current employee.  However, the measure doesn't outlaw an employer's right to access information on social media as part of an investigation into employee misconduct, or a violation of law.

The measure now heads to House Judiciary Committee for another vote before the March 7 deadline for bills to crossover to the Senate.


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