New Hampshire Restricts Access to Social Media & Electronic Mail

House Bill 1407, passed by New Hampshire, restricts employers' access to social media and electronic mail, relating to privacy in the workplace.

The Act amends New Hampshire's Revised Statutes Annotated by inserting §§ 275:71  275:73.

Employers may not:

  • Request or require an employee or applicant to disclose login information for accessing any personal account or service through an electronic communication device
  • Compel an employee or applicant to add anyone, including the employer of its agent, to a list of contacts associated with an electronic mail account or personal account
  • Require an employee or applicant to reduce the privacy settings associated with any electronic mail or personal account that would affect a third party's ability to view the contents of the account
  • Take or threaten to take disciplinary action against an employee for refusing to comply with a request or demand by the employer that violates the Act
The restrictions do not apply to an account or service provided as a result of the employment relationship or to an electronic communications device or online account paid for by the employer.

Employers may adopt and enforce lawful workplace policies regarding internet use, social networking use, and electronic mail. If the employer inadvertantly receives passwords or other authentication information, the employer is not liable for having this information, but it cannot use the information to access the employee's accounts.

In addition, the employer may conduct investigations to ensure compliance with laws and work-related policies based on information about activity on an employee's personal account or service. Investigations may also be conducted based on specific information about the unauthorized transfer of an employer's proprietary or confidential information, or financial data to a personal online account or service by an employee. Employees may be required to cooporate in these investigations and share only the content that has been received by the employer so the employer may make a factual determination.

New Hampshire is the fifth state to enact social media restrictions this year, joining Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Other states with similar laws include Colorado, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey and Oregon.