Senate hearing Tuesday on bill to protect privacy online - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Senate hearing Tuesday on bill to protect privacy online

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Social media has become a huge part of what we do day to day, but some colleges and employers around the country are prying open applicants' private online accounts. It's a trend that a pair of bipartisan lawmakers want to stop in Wisconsin.

A Senate committee has scheduled a hearing on the bipartisan bill Tuesday. That comes after an Assembly committee heard the measure in May.

The bill would block employers, landlords and universities from pressuring job seekers, tenants or college students from being required to turn over their passwords to their email accounts or social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter.

At least 14 state have passed similar laws. One of the bill's sponsors, Democratic Representative Melissa Sargent, says people have asked her for these protections.

"I've had people come to me and tell me, as students, that they have had schools ask for this," Rep. Sargent said. "It really has an effect on student athletes primarily. And I have had people say that it is something they have had asked on job applications and also during interviews. So it makes an uncomfortable situation."

The bill would still allow these groups to look at applicants', tenants', or students' public postings on the Internet.

The bill has broad bipartisan support and it could be taken up by the full Legislature as early as next month. 

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