New Florida bill to address social media privacy at work

By Julie Gargotta, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, December 25, 2014, 6:59 PM EST
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Your usernames and passwords are all up for grabs by employers in Florida in the quest to know more about their employees.

Employers in the state of Florida are currently allowed to request personal login information for social media accounts from employees and potential employees, but a new bill could change that.

SB 126, a bill proposed by state Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) for the 2015 session, would keep employers from requesting access to employees' — or prospective employees' — social media accounts.

Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater), who proposed an earlier version of the bill with Clemens, said he is fully supportive of the bill.

"I think privacy needs to be respected," said Latvala. "Requesting employees or applicants to give access to their personal account to employers is overreach and just not right."

Other states have introduced similar legislation. Ten states enacted social media privacy bills in 2013, and bills passed in another seven states just this year

Social media and PR expert Bree Gotsdiner said Floridians stand much to gain if this bill passes.

"You'll gain the right to remain private," said Gotsdiner. "You gain the ability and the freedom to choose what you put out there, and what people see."

Gotsdiner said that while employers want to do their research, making sure employees fit well with company culture, granting access to personal social media accounts is a slippery slope.

"Yes, they want to see what's out there. But if you give them your login information and password, then where does that stop?" she added. "The employer can ask for that. What else can they ask for? Who else can ask for that?"

No matter the fate of this pending social media privacy bill, Gotsdiner warned that people should still exercise caution when posting.

"Whatever you post is out there permanently," she said. "Once something's seen, it can't be unseen."