Delaware Enacts Social Media Privacy Law Affecting Employers

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

August 13, 2015

A new Delaware privacy law bans employers from demanding access to a job applicant's or employee's personal social media accounts. Effective August 7, the Delaware Code will be amended to include safeguards for the online activities of employees and applicants.

The new law prohibits Delaware employers from engaging in the following activities:

  • Asking for an employee's or applicant's log-in information to a private social media account;
  • Compelling an employee or applicant to accept a "friend" request; and
  • Forcing an employee or applicant to disable his or her account's privacy settings.

However, the new law does not restrict an employer's ability to exert control over their own social media accounts or to monitor employees' activities on these accounts. This includes any electronic device paid for or issued by the employer.

The Delaware measure continues a nationwide trend as it becomes the 22nd state to enact a social media privacy protection law. Other states that have restricted an employer's ability to access a job applicant's or employee's personal social media accounts include Delaware's neighbors, New Jersey and Maryland.

The Delaware law is part of a four-part online privacy package that also will require data collectors to clearly disclose on their websites how they are using any personal data they collect about users, including the ways they track individuals online. It also restricts the ability of companies to disclose the reading habits of e-book readers. These other laws also include enhanced social media privacy protections for children.