Social media privacy bill advances

A House committee embraced legislation Monday that would allow workers to keep their Facebook accounts and email addresses private unless they access them on their company’s hardware.

The protection in House Bill 340 would extend to school students, who could not be expelled, disciplined or penalized for keeping their likes, photos, posts and friends private.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Ted James, told the House Commerce Committee that employees and students should not be required to disclose their social media passwords or email addresses. He added an exception allowing employers to request a personal email address in case the work email system fails.

James, D-Baton Rouge, said employers and schools still can monitor what is in the public domain. Translation: Update your privacy settings.

Employers and schools still would have the right to block social media sites on their networks to prevent workers and students from updating their Facebook status during the work or school day. Employers also could monitor any activity on a work computer or device.

HB340 now moves to the full House for debate.