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Governor Hochul signed Assembly Bill (A) 00836 and Senate Bill (S) 02518A, which restricts employers’ access to employee and applicant personal social media accounts.

Effective March 12, 2024, NYS employers will be banned from requesting or requiring employees or applicants to disclose usernames, passwords, or other means for accessing a personal account or to access their personal accounts in the employer’s presence. The new law also prohibits employers from discharging, disciplining, or failing to hire individuals who refuse to provide such access.

The law is limited in its scope to personal accounts which exclude accounts utilized for business purposes and contain specific exceptions. It does not restrict the collection of communications made using business applications, even if they are installed on personal devices or apply to mixed-use accounts used by an employee for both business and personal communications.

While this law restricts an employer’s ability to request access to an employee or applicant’s personal social media accounts, publicly available information is not covered. NYS employers should review their policies regarding employee social media accounts to ensure that they are in compliance with the new requirements.