Bills could stop corporate invasion of privacy

James Dohnert, V3 |

California officials aim to improve social networking privacy standards with a set of new legislation.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren has introduced two new bills that look to update US online privacy laws. California governor Jerry Brown has also signed into law two new bills which aim to prevent employers from demanding employee’s social networking passwords.

“The internet is a thriving and vibrant engine for cultural and economic growth because it empowers people to connect and share information globally with limited restrictions,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren said.

“We need proactive laws designed to preserve an open and truly global internet from SOPA-like legislation, unduly restrictive treaties and trade agreements, and over-broad government surveillance.”

Congresswoman Lofgren’s ECPA 2.0 Act mandates that authorities must obtain warrants before tracking citizens through social networking tools or email. Lofgren’s other bill, the Global Free Internet Act, would create a bipartisan committee that would oversee future policies that may pose a threat to internet users.

Both bills are currently in the early stages of the political process. Lofgren hopes to get feedback on the legislation in the coming weeks before she brings them in front of Congress later this year.

California governor Jerry Brown’s new legislation will set up regulations which would prevent universities and employers from demanding citizen’s social networking log-ins.

The recently signed bills make it unlawful for California organisations to require citizens’ social networking account information. Both bills were introduced by California State senator Leland Yee last February.

“The practice of employers or colleges demanding social media passwords is entirely unnecessary and completely unrelated to someone’s performance or abilities,” said California State senator Yee.

“Today, California has declared that this is an unacceptable invasion of personal privacy.”

The issues at the heart of bills have continued to make headlines over 2012. Twitter recently reported that it was ordered to hand over 679 user account details during 2012. The company says it granted 75 per cent of those requests.

US Senator Charles Schumer also called on the Department of Justice to do something to prevent employers from demanding employees social networking account information earlier this year.