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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Senate Bill To Stop Employers From Accessing Employee Social Media Accounts

In a move to protect millions of employees' right to privacy Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago today filed Senate Bill No. 2681 known as the "Social Media Privacy Act" which prohibits employers from compelling employees and applicants for employment to provide access to their social media accounts.

Citing Article 3, Section 3 of the Philippine Constitution which protects the privacy of communication, Senator Santiago said that employer will be violating the law if they access social media accounts of their employees.

According to an report, Senator Santiago also said "Most people have social media accounts for sharing personal insights and storing personal information. They deserve the same statutory protection against invasion and abuse of their privacy on the Internet and social media,”

What Employers Cannot Do

Under the Senate Bill 2681, employers cannot do the following:

1. Require or request an employee or applicant to disclose their name, password and other authentication details needed to access a personal social media account
2. Compel an employee or applicant to add to the employer to the employee's list of contacts of a social media site
3. Except when an investigation is being conducted, employees cannot be forced to access his or her social media accounts in the presence of the employer in a manner that
his access details can easily be seen or recorded
4. Employers cannot punish, discriminate, penalize or threaten an employee for refusing to give his or her social media user name, password and other authentication details

Employees managing social media accounts of their employer however can be forced to disclose passwords, usernames and other critical data to access the sites.

What Employers Are Allowed To Do

1. Conduct an investigation, without requiring an employee to provide a user name and password, for the purpose of ensuring compliance with applicable laws, regulatory requirements or prohibitions against work-related employee misconduct

2. Conduct an investigation permitted under this Section that requires an employee, without providing a user name and password, password or other means of authentication that provides access to a personal social media account of the employee, to share content that has been reported to the employer that is necessary for the employer to make a factual determination about the matter

3. Access employee information posted publicly

Social media site privacy in the work place is a concern shared by many countries worldwide. In the U.S., at least 20 states are currently discussing legislation on employer access to employee social media accounts and other privacy issues. The UK has also similar social media privacy initiatives being debated in parliament.

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