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Illinois has become the second state after Maryland in the US to ban employers from asking employees or job candidates for their Facebook or other social networking account information. Several other states are also considering bans, including Washington, Delaware and New Jersey.

This week, Illinois Govenor Pat Quinn signed into law a new bill that will make it illegal for an employer to request an employee’s or job candidate’s social network username or password in order to gain access to their account or profile.

The governor said it was important to ensure privacy laws keep pace with technology and stated “We’re dealing with 21st-century issues.. Privacy is a fundamental right. I believe that and I think we need to fight for that.”

The law will take effect from 1 January and protects both current employees and prospective hires and penalties in any successful civil suit start at between $100 and $300 but could end up costing employers a lot more.

Lori Andrews, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s School of Law, stated that research has shown that 75 percent of employers require their human resources departments to look at online profiles before offering an applicant a job, and that a third of employers have turned down applicants based on those searches.

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