Legislators in California and Washington, D.C. are considering bills to prevent employers from requiring employees to disclose social media user names or passwords. The California bill -- AB 1844 -- passed in the Assembly 73-0. The federal bill -- The Password Protection Act of 2012 -- was introduced last week.
Is there a legitimate basis for this flurry of legislative activity? I have heard not one report of any California employer requiring disclosure of this information. In this sense, it's reminiscent of the legislative attempts to ban discrimination against unemployed people. Or even the Missouri legislation to prevent discrimination against gun owners (as reported here on the Daily Show). Plus, the conduct in question (again, assuming it's even happening) already implicates the National Labor Relations Act, the Stored Communications Act, and myriad other laws respecting employee privacy.
So don't let these legislators fool you into thinking that they're championing employee rights. They're enacting unnecessary legislation to address a non-existent problem and they're doing it because it's popular. By this logic, legislation to prevent employers from executing older employees to control healthcare costs can't be far off.