Maryland has become the first state in the nation to prohibit employers from asking job applicants or employees to disclose their social media passwords.

Under the statute, an employer may not discharge, discipline or otherwise penalize an employee for refusing to disclose their "user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account or service through an electronic communication device." Nor may an employer refuse to hire an applicant for such refusal.

However, the law does allow an employer to require an employee to disclose any user names and passwords for "nonpersonal accounts or services that provide access to the employer's internal computer or information systems."

The new law also bars employees from downloading "unauthorized employer proprietary information or financial data" to a personal website or account, and reserves an employer's right to conduct an investigation with regard to unauthorized downloading

The law takes effect on October 1. Similar measures are pending in California, Illinois, Minnesota and New York.

Read the law