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This Week in Social Media Law: Employer Snooping, Fishing Expeditions, Hacking Claims, and More
Posted on October 12th 2012
Welcome to the first issue of This Week in Social Media Law, which I plan to be a regular roundup of interesting issues at the intersection of social media and the law, as written by some of the nation’s leading lawyers. Here goes...
• California outlaws employer social media snooping:
Silence is golden in the Golden State, at least as far as social media passwords are concerned. A new law prohibiting employers from requesting passwords of employees and job applicants goes into effect January 1, 2013. Unlike similar laws in Maryland and Illinois, however, the California statute provides two important exceptions: employers can require disclosure from employees when investigating securities law violations, and they’re allowed to monitor passwords and keystrokes on devices they provide to employees.
Interestingly, while the law makes it clear that the California Labor Commissioner is not required to investigate complaints, it doesn’t authorize employees and job applicants to sue businesses that break the law. As such, it’s not clear what remedies are available to those harmed by employer social media snooping. (Littler)
• Federal court blocks social media fishing expedition:
Earlier this year Danielle Mailhoit sued her employer, The Home Depot, for gender discrimination and failing to accommodate her physical disability. The DIY retailer responded with a motion to gain access to Mailhoit’s social media posts, because they could provide information relevant to her claims: “in this day and age, many communications between friends and/or about an individual’s emotional state are communicated via social media.” No dice, said Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal. (Cullen & Dykman)
• Taking over employee LinkedIn account does not constitute computer hacking:
If your employer hijacks your LinkedIn account, claiming that it’s a company account, not a personal one, you won’t be able to sue them under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Earlier this month, a federal judge dismissed Linda Eagle’s CFAA lawsuit against her former employer. But it’s not the end of the line for Eagle, who can still seek damages from the company under state laws. (McNees Wallace & Nurick)
• Employers: it may be time to update your social media policy:
Law firms continue to parse recent National Labor Relations Board rulings on social media policies in the workplace. Their recommendation? It’s time to review and revise company policies, especially those that contain “overly broad” prohibitions on any type of comment that might be considered as damaging to the company and its reputation. (Akerman Senterfitt) (Pillsbury)
• Google settles book digitization lawsuit:
Google Books’ Library Project has a simple objective: “make it easier for people to find relevant books – specifically, books they wouldn’t find any other way such as those that are out of print – while carefully respecting authors’ and publishers’ copyrights.” But the lawsuits the project has generated are far from simple. One such suit, with the Association of American Publishers, has settled. The agreement will allow publishers to choose whether their books will be listed in Google Books and available for sale on Google Play. Lawsuits with the Author’s Guild, photographers and visual artists, and others remain unresolved. (Foley Hoag)
- New California Law Gives Employees and Job Applicants Greater Social Media Use Protections - Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
- California's New Social Media "Password Protection" Law Takes a More Balanced Approach by Accounting for Employers' Legitimate Business Interests – Littler
- New Laws Prohibit Employers And Colleges From Requesting Social Media Passwords - Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard
- California Joins Maryland and Illinois in Restricting Employers' Access To Employees' "Social Media" - Fisher & Phillips LLP
- New California Law Protects Employee Use of Social Media – Proskauer
- New California Law Limits Employer Access to Employee Social Media Accounts - Morrison & Foerster LLP
- Social Media Privacy Law Signed By Governor, Will Become Effective on January 1, 2013 - Hopkins & Carley
- Online and Off-Limits: New California Legislation Prohibits Employers from Requiring Access to Social Media Accounts of Employees - Mintz Levin
- Court Determines Requests for Defendant’s Social Media Posts Were Overly Broad - Cullen and Dykman LLP
- Employer Takeover of Employee's LinkedIn Account Does Not Violate Federal Computer Hacking Law, Question of Ownership Remains - McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC
- Does Your Policy Covering Employees' Use of Social Media Cross the Line - And Just Where Is That Line Anyway? - Akerman Senterfitt
- First NLRB Decisions on Social Media Give Employers Cause to Update Policies, Practices - Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
- Google Settles Long-Running Copyright Dispute with Book Publishers - Foley Hoag LLP