Delaware AG Denn unveils internet privacy proposals

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 (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

The package of four bills includes measures that would stop employers from forcing workers to share social media passwords and also prohibit tobacco and alcohol advertising to children online.

The package of legislation is designed to keep state law up to date with the latest technology and protect residents and their online data.

“The internet is an area where the state just hasn’t kept up with technology, both in terms of protecting safety and also in terms of protecting basic privacy interest,” Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn said. “These bills are an effort to try to catch up to where the technology has gone.”

Under one piece of legislation, employers would be banned from forcing employees or applicants to hand over passwords for social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter. “While employers certainly have the right to monitor their employees’ social media activity, they don’t have a right to demand access to workers’ private social media accounts,” said State Senator Bryan Townsend, a Democrat from Newark. “This legislation would clearly codify that.”

Employers would still be able to have access over social media accounts created for business purposes and control activity of employees on those accounts.

Also in the package of bills is a measure that would make it a crime to post information about crime victims who are being protected by the state’s Address Confidentiality Program. It would be a crime to the post the image, address or telephone number of a crime victim online for the purpose of intimidating or inciting harm against that victim. State Rep. Michael Barbieri, a Democrat from Newark, is one of the sponsors of that legislation. “To know that anyone can find out where you’re living and put that on the internet so that others can have access to you, to your family is just unacceptable,” Barbieri said.

The third and fourth pieces of the package both deal with children online. First, the Student Data Privacy Protection Act is designed to limit sharing of data collected by schools and teachers for educational purposes. State Rep. Earl Jaques, a Democrat from St. Georges, said he’s heard numerous concerns from parents about their children online. “I was completely unaware of how much of our education data was being pushed around through, not only government agencies, but also private agencies,” Jaques said. “I wouldn’t let my credit card information out to everybody, and that’s what we’re doing with our education data.”

The final piece of legislation would limit advertising on sites for and used by children. Tobacco, alcohol and firearms advertising would be prohibited from being shown on websites geared towards children. While that might sound like a hard thing for one state to enforce against a website operator from somewhere else in the country, Denn is taking the team approach and has modeled the legislation on what other states are doing. “If a company is a national company and is having to follow the law already in California or Georgia…then they probably wouldn’t have to change much based on our laws,” Denn said.

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