New Hampshire social media privacy law takes effect September 30

by Jeanine Poole

New Hampshire employers need to be reviewing their policies regarding employee use of social media and electronic equipment now that a new law protecting employee privacy is set to take effect September 30.

The new law prohibits New Hampshire employers from requesting or requiring current or prospective employees to disclose some information related to their personal social media accounts. The law defines “personal account” as “an account, service, or profile on a social networking website that is used by a current or prospective employee primarily for personal communications unrelated to any business purpose of the employer.”

With some exceptions, the law prohibits employers from:

  • Requesting or requiring current or prospective employees to disclose login information for any personal account or service accessed through an electronic communications device;
  • Compelling employees or applicants to add anyone, including the employer and its agent, to a list of contacts associated with an e-mail or personal account or requiring employees or applicants to reduce the privacy settings associated with their e-mail or personal accounts to allow a third party to view the accounts’ contents; and
  • Taking or threatening to take disciplinary action against employees for refusing to comply with a request or demand that violates the law.

The law allows employers to:

  • Adopt and enforce lawful policies governing the use of their electronic equipment, including policies on Internet, social media, and e-mail usage;
  • Monitor the use of their electronic equipment and e-mail systems; and
  • Request or require employees to disclose login information for accounts and services provided by virtue of the employment relationship and electronic communications devices or online accounts paid for or supplied by the employer.

Employers aren’t liable if they inadvertently receive an employee’s password or other authentication information through an electronic device or program that monitors their network or employees’ use of employer-provided electronic devices. Also, the law specifically states that nothing prohibits employers from obtaining information about employees or prospective employees that is in the public domain.

For more information on the new law, see the September issue of New Hampshire Employment Law Letter.

Jeanine Poole is a partner with Sulloway & Hollis, P.L.L.C., in Concord. She can be reached at jpoole@sulloway.com.

About New Hampshire Employment Law Letter:
Excerpted from New Hampshire Employment Law Letter written by attorneys at the law firm of Sulloway & Hollis, P.L.L.C. NEW HAMPSHIRE EMPLOYMENT LAW LETTER should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information purposes only. Anyone needing specific legal advice should consult an attorney. Contact attorneys at Sulloway & Hollis, P.L.L.C..
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