Social Media Law

Overview

The State of Wisconsin protects the privacy of personal internet accounts from employers, educational institutions, and landlords under certain circumstances. A "personal internet account" is defined as an Internet-based account that is created and used by an individual exclusively for purposes of personal communications.

The statute of limitations for filing a complaint related to employment or education is 300 days from the date the action was taken or the individual was made aware the action was taken. The statute of limitations for filing a complaint related to housing is 1 year from the date the action was taken or the individual was made aware the action was taken.

What is protected?

Employers may not request or require access (login) information or otherwise require an employee or prospective employee to grant access or allow observation of a personal internet account. Employers or prospective employers may not refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against an employee or prospective employee for refusing to provide such information or for opposing a prohibited practice or participating in the enforcement of this law. However, this protection is subject to exceptions:

  • An employer may require access information (such as a password) for a device supplied by the employer (such as an employer-provided computer or smart phone)
  • An employer may require an employee to grant access or allow observation if that employee transfers the employer's information or financial data using the employee's personal internet account
  • An employer may restrict access to web sites while using its equipment or network
  • An employer may view or access the personal internet account of an employee if that account is open to the public
  • An employer may request or require an employee to provide their personal email address

To file a complaint under the Wisconsin Social Media law against an employer.

Landlords may not request or require access (login) information or otherwise require a tenant or prospective tenant to grant access or allow observation of a personal internet account. Landlords may not discriminate by refusing to rent, refusing to renew a lease, evicting a tenant, harassing a tenant, or otherwise interfering with a tenant in the enjoyment of the property because of the tenant's refusal to provide access (login) information, to grant access, or to allow observation. However, landlords may view or access personal internet accounts that are visible to the public.

To file a complaint under the Wisconsin Social Media law against a landlord.

For more information

File a Complaint