Keeping laws up to the times serves public

One change is a ban on employers demanding computer passwords from employees. Wine and beer tasting at farmers’ markets was also approved.


Technology and social norms change faster — much faster — than the law.

But the state Legislature found some time in the midst of its budget battles to approve two needed pieces of legislation. One law bars employers from demanding personal computer passwords for social media and the other allows wine and beer to be tasted as farmers’ markets.

Lawmakers took a stand for privacy when they barred employers from demanding passwords for social media sites such as Facebook from employees and perspective employees.

The law also stops employers from requiring workers to “friend” managers so it would be easy to monitor their lives.

It is outrageous for employers to bully employees into allowing them into their personal lives, even if it is their cyber-personal life.

We have no problems with employers doing Google searches and ’net surfing to see if their employees or perspective employees have gotten into trouble. That stuff, like it or not, is out there for anybody to see.

But when information is accessible only to those with passwords or approved access, people have an expectation of privacy.

Aside from being overly intrusive, forcing people to surrender passwords might result in those passwords being compromised and making it more likely identity theft or financial fraud occurs.

The Legislature made a wise call.

Lawmakers also got it right in allowing farmers’ markets to host wine and beer tastings. The concept was tested at 10 farmers’ markets around the state (the closest to Walla Walla was in Pasco) without problems.

Only small samples are allowed. This isn’t an outdoor bar. Those who are pouring must still take care to now allow someone to drink too much.

Given that making fine wine at more than 100 small wineries is big businesses in Walla Walla County, the expansion of wine tasting should be a boon locally. The law provides an opportunity to expand interest in Walla Walla and other Washington state-produced wine as well as beer.

Some of the smaller wineries that might not have much statewide recognition will have new venues to market their wine to consumers they might not have otherwise reached.

Wine and beer lovers benefit because they will have more opportunity to sample and purchase a wider variety of state-produced beverages.


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