SPRINGFIELD-The Illinois House on Friday voted to give employers more authority over employees' online activity by allowing employers to request access to personal Internet accounts.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), passed by a 68-36 margin, with two voting present, and now moves to the Senate.
Durkin's measure would allow employees to request - but not require - employees and prospective employees to disclose usernames and passwords used to access accounts either provided by the employer or used for business purposes, including information for social networking websites like Facebook.
The measure aims to protect businesses' trade secrets and intellectual property and maintain safe work environments, Durkin said.
"It states that an employer who is provided with specific information - perhaps which could cause a disturbance or even some type of active workplace violence - it gives them the ability to perform their due diligence to try to identify the source of some potential outbreak of harm," Durkin said.
The proposal amends more stringent, previously passed legislation sponsored by Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) that bars employers from requesting the information.
"I think that when you open this up to an employer - that's already at a level above the employee - I think that it broods fear to the employee that if they refuse to give the password to the employer that there could be repercussions," Ford contested.
However, Durkin's bill would forbid employers from penalizing or firing an employee or refusing to hire a prospective employee for refusing to give up his or her online account information.
"This bill merely allows [employers] to ask the question without any fear of retribution or any type of punishment," Durkin said.