SPRINGFIELD, Ill. • Employers in Illinois are a step closer to being prohibited from asking prospective employees for passwords to their private social networking sites under a measure moving forward in the Illinois Legislature.

Legislation sponsored by state Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, which proposes to protect prospective employees’ social networking accounts, passed the Senate Labor committee today and will appear on the Senate floor for debate.

“Technology has moved faster than our laws have,” said state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights. “There is so much private information that we do through social media. If you protect any of that information behind the passwords then it is absolutely appropriate that no one should be able to have it.”

The issues of privacy protection and social media are being addressed through similar legislation on the national level. Last week, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., sponsored The Social Networking Online Protection Act, which prohibits current or potential employers from requiring the username or password to employee’s private online accounts.

Prospective employees who do not have protected or secure social networking accounts are not protected under HB3782, Illinois' legislation.