In the earlier two posts of this four part series on Legislation of Privacy, I talked about how many of the newer and upcoming laws regarding privacy in the United States will affect your Digital Life and Digital Commerce.
In this post, I’ll cover the two privacy laws that affect life in the workplace, from how you’re hired to what information is fair game for employers.
Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) isn’t new legislation. Passed in 2008, it prohibits the use of genetic information in health insurance and employment. That means that employers can’t making hiring, firing, job placement, or promotions decisions based on genetic information, nor can insurers raise premiums or deny coverage to those with a genetic predisposition for a disease. While GINA itself is just five years old, it may soon see some updates. A recent report from the U.S. Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical issues recommended that the law be expanded to include security measures whole-genome sequence data rather than just focusing on issues of discrimination. New regulations would likely update the consent forms individuals sign when they agree to take part in research studies, helping protect their genetic information and preventing misuse of this data. Additionally, under recommendations by the committee, GINA would be expanded to include comprehensive national rules on how genetic privacy is protected.
- How It Will Affect You: Should the act be expanded, individuals will enjoy greater protection of their genetic data. Research studies must be more transparent about security risks and genetic data itself will see greater protection under law to ensure that fewer privacy breaches occur and that discrimination cannot occur. Currently, GINA does not protect individuals from discrimination when applying for life or long-term care policies. Greater protections on genetic data could make it possible for this information to be off limits to anyone outside the individual or his or her immediate family.
- Timeline: The report from the commission was just released in February 2013, so it will likely be quite some time before amendments to the legislation, if they are decided as being warranted, are crafted. In lieu of amending GINA, legislators may opt to create new laws on genetic privacy. In these early stages, however, there are no guarantees and no new legislation may be passed for several years, if at all.
Social Media Privacy Act: Increasingly, employers have turned to social media as a way to learn more about potential employees. However, this has also meant that in some cases privacy boundaries were crossed, with potential employers requiring applicants to turn over passwords to social media accounts. To help job seekers protect their online privacy, California,Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and New Jersey have all passed social media privacy laws. What’s more, 11 other states (including New Mexico and Texas) have legislation of this nature pending.
- How It Will Affect You: The legislation will only affect you if you live in a state that has passed an Internet privacy law, though over time it’s likely that most, if not all, states will follow suit. These acts make it illegal for employers to require applicants or current employees to hand over passwords to private accounts, which will help protect your personal accounts and private interactions when seeking employment. Some laws, like those of Delaware and New Jersey, focus on colleges and not employers, banning admissions officers and college employees from requiring password information.
- Timeline: All states that have passed legislation with regard to the privacy of social media passwords have gone into effect, some as recently as January. Over the course of 2013, it’s likely that many other states will pass and begin enforcing similar laws, though there are no guarantees: in some states, like Pennsylvania, similar measures never even made it out of committee.
This is part 3 of a 4 part series. The part 1 illustrated in detail Privacy Laws related to Digital life and their effect on the same. Part 2 illustrated in detail Privacy Laws related to Digital Commerce and their effect on the same.
Link to part 4, which will elaborate on effects of privacy laws on Personal information will be updated soon.