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Computer Use & Social Media

California passes legislation prohibiting employers from demanding access to personal social media accounts

Jurisdiction: - United States

California has passed legislation prohibiting employers from demanding access to employees' and job applicants' personal social media accounts. The text of the September 27, 2012 press release from the Govenor's office is as follows:

Governor Brown Signs Laws to Protect Privacy for Social Media Users

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today took to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace to announce that he has signed two bills that increase privacy protections for social media users in California.

Assembly Bill 1844 (Campos) and Senate Bill 1349 (Yee) prohibit universities and employers from requiring that applicants give up their email or social media account passwords.

"The Golden State is pioneering the social media revolution and these laws will protect all Californians from unwarranted invasions of their personal social media accounts," said Governor Brown.  read more »

Alberta arbitrator: derogatory/threatening Facebook postings about supervisors justified dismissal for cause

Jurisdiction: - Alberta

In Canada Post v. Canadian Union of Postal Workers, [2012] C.L.A.D. No. 85 (March 21, 2012 Ponak) an Alberta arbitrator ruled that employee's derogatory and threatening Facebook postings about her supervisors justified dismissal for cause.

The headnote of the decision summarizes it as follows:  read more »

Second social media report issued by US National Labour Relations Board's Acting General Counsel

Jurisdiction: - United States

Back in January 2012, the US National Labour Relations Board Acting General Counsel released a second report describing 14 social media cases reviewed by his office.

Here's the entire news release, with a link to the report (and the one that preceded it):

To help provide further guidance to practitioners and human resource professionals, NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon has released a second report describing social media cases reviewed by his office.

The Operations Management Memo covers 14 cases, half of which involve questions about employer social media policies. Five of those policies were found to be unlawfully broad, one was lawful, and one was found to be lawful after it was revised.  read more »

"10 Tips to Deal with Employee Discipline for Social Media Use"

Jack Graham and Lana Rafuse at McInnes Cooper have written a legal update for the law firm's newsletter titled, "10 Tips to Deal with Employee Discipline for Social Media Use" (March 1, 2012).

The tips are designed to assist employers in "drawing the line" on social media use and thus be in a position to discipline employees who go over the line. Taken directly from the article, their tips are:  read more »

"Is Excessive Internet Use Time Theft?"

"Is Excessive Internet Use Time Theft?" (May 16, 2012) is the subject of the latest HR Space bulletin from law firm Faskens. It was written by Hadiya J. Roderique.

The bulletin discusses a labour arbitration award and a decision of the Public Service Labour Relations Board, that were both issued in late 2011:

  1. Andrews v. Deputy Head (Department of Citizenship and Immigration)  2011 PSLRB 100  (August 2011); and
  2. Health Sciences Association of British Columbia v. Health Employers' Association of British Columbia  [2011] B.C.C.A.A.A. No. 125 (Glass) 

Canadian Association of Counsel to Employers posts factum in SCC case concerning privacy, work computers

The Canadian Association of Counsel to Employers (CACE) is an association of management-side labour and employment lawyers across Canada that was created in 2004.

In  a news release issued today, it announced it is intervening before the Supreme Court of Canada in the R v. Cole case. The release states as folllows:

In a case involving a teacher and nude sexually explicitly images of a grade 10 student, the Canadian Association of Counsel to Employers (CACE) has intervened before the Supreme Court on the case, R. v. Cole, on the issue of privacy and work computers.  read more »

Calgary Police Service breach privacy statute by accessing employee's personal email account, using photos

Jurisdiction: - Alberta

Here is April 30, 2012 news release that was issued by the Alberta Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner in relation to Order F2012-07, which was issued on April 20, 2012:

Calgary Police Service in contravention of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

An Adjudicator with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has determined that the Calgary Police Service was in violation of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) when it accessed the personal email account of an individual.  read more »

Facebook issues statement against employers asking prospective or actual employees to reveal passwords

Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer, Erin Egan, issued a statement on March 23, 2012 setting out the company's opposition to employers asking prospective or actual employees to reveal their Facebook passwords.

The statement reads:

"In recent months, we've seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people's Facebook profiles or private information. This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user's friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.

The most alarming of these practices is the reported incidences of employers asking prospective or actual employees to reveal their passwords. If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends. We have worked really hard at Facebook to give you the tools to control who sees your information.  read more »

Federal Privacy Commissioner launches handbook to help lawyers apply PIPEDA to their practices

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal

The Federal Privacy Commissioner has launched on online handbook - PIPEDA and Your Practice - A Privacy Handbook for Lawyers - to help lawyers apply the federal private sector privacy legislation to their practices.

"Written by lawyers for lawyers, PIPEDA and Your Practice - A Privacy Handbook for Lawyers describes best practices in managing the collection, use and disclosure of personal information, responding to requests for access to personal information, and the potential application of PIPEDA. The Handbook covers practical privacy issues that arise in the course of managing a law firm and conducting litigation," stated the Commissioner's office in its August 16, 2011 news release announcing the handbook.

Litigators will likely find the "Privacy Issues in Civil Litigation" section to be of significant value.