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Michigan’s New Law Protects Online Privacy

online privacyMichigan’s new law, the Internet Privacy Protection Act (IPPA), protects employees, potential employees, students and applicants from giving employers and educators access to their personal social media accounts. Under the new law, accounts such as Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Twitter are covered. Employers and school administrators can’t discharge, fail to hire or admit or otherwise penalize their current or potential employees or students for refusing their request.

Violators of the law can be charged with a misdemeanor. If convicted, the fine is no more than $1000. There is also civil remedy provision capping damages at $1000 and an award of attorney’s fees and costs.

The law does provide several exceptions that allow employers or educators access to private Internet accounts. Companies and schools may ask their employees or students for:

  • Access information for a cell phone, tablet computer or other electronic communications device paid for by the employer or the school, or
  • Log-in information for accounts created by employers or schools for the use of their employees or students. 

Companies will want to consider the new law when establishing social network policies. If your company encourages employees to create connections via the Internet, questions of ownership and access may need to be reviewed.

Categories: Employment, Privacy

Photo of Nicholas M. Oertel

focuses his practice in the areas of Michigan non-property tax disputes, business entity selection, corporate transactions, and information technology.

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