CHICAGO — Seeking to guard the privacy rights of the social networking generation, Illinois is making it illegal for employers to ask job applicants for passwords to their online profiles.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law Wednesday at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where several students lamented that online snooping by bosses has caused some to lose out on jobs and forced others to temporarily deactivate their online profiles.
Illinois is only the second state to have such a law on the books, and it leaves no exceptions — even for openings that require thorough background checks.
In their efforts to vet job applicants, some companies and government agencies have started asking for passwords to log in to a prospective employee’s accounts on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Civil liberties groups, social media users and others have criticized the practice as a serious invasion of privacy, likening it to handing over the keys to your house.