CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois employers will no longer be able to ask for employee or job candidates’ social network account information in order to gain access to their account or profile.

Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday signed HB 3782, which goes in effect Jan. 1, 2013, making Illinois the second state to enact such legislation, a release from Quinn’s office said.

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Sponsored by Rep. La Shawn Ford of Chicago and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont, the bill prevents employers from screening job candidates or reprimanding employees based on private information from social network accounts, the release said.

“Members of the workforce should not be punished for information their employers don’t legally have the right to have,” Quinn said in a statement. “As use of social media continues to expand, this law will protect workers and their right to personal privacy.”

“Employers certainly aren’t allowed to ask for the keys to an employee’s home to nose around there, and I believe that same expectation of personal privacy and personal space should be extended to a social networking account,” Radogno said in a statement.

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She pointed out that employers are not allowed to ask employees or job applicants about age, sex, race or sexual orientation—all information that could be easily gleaned from a social networking site.

The law’s definition of social networking sites does not include email, and does not prevent employers from obtaining information in the public domain.

“Social networking accounts are places where we document the personal and private aspects of our lives, and employers have realized they can get answers to questions they are prohibited from asking by gaining unfettered access to our accounts,” Ford said a statement.

“This legislation may protect employers from future lawsuits as much as it protects employees and job seekers.”

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