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January 2, 2013

Technology News Briefs — Jan. 2, 2013

Law Bans Employers from Asking for Social Media Passwords in California, Illinois

It is now illegal for employers in California and Illinois to ask for access to workers’ password-protected social media accounts — one of the first new laws of 2013.

The move was one of more than 400 laws passed at state level last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

According to Reuters, some of the laws, which range from health care to gun control, took effect at midnight Jan. 1. Others will become law later in the year.

In California and Illinois, however, the laws that took effect at 12:01 a.m. EST makes it unlawful for bosses or managers to ask employees or job seekers for their social media passwords or other private online account information.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a similar measure into law in December, which also takes punitive measures against educational institutions which demand students’ personal social media account information.

Netflix CEO to Get Pay Hike to $4M

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings will receive some healthy paycheques over the next two years.

Hastings’ salary will increase to $2 million this year with $2 million in stock options, a Dec. 28 securities filing revealed. That is a significant increase from his 2012 salary of $500,000 and $1.5 million in stock options.

In 2014, his pay will double to $4 million a year.

It is not as big of a jump as it appears however. Hastings earned $3.5 million in 2011, but took a $3 million pay cut last year due to some management gaffes such as a subscription price hike that caused stock to plummet from above $300 to less than $70 a share. The shares now sit at about $90.

Angry Birds, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook Top Apps of 2012

Angry Birds, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook were the most-downloaded apps of 2012 but some newly released games gave the leaders a run for their money.

Draw Something a game for iPhones and Android was a hit when released in February, and remains the second most downloaded paid app of the year for both Android and Apple devices.

Multi-player puzzle-type games such as LetterPress and ScrambleWithFriends were also popular.

Songza, a music-discovery app for iPhone, Android and Kindle Fire is currently one of the top free apps on the App Store.

According to app analytics firm Distimo, sketchbook app Paper, for the iPad, is one of the top grossing apps released this year and was labeled the iPad app of the year, courtesy of Apple.

Apps like Uber and Hailo, which enable users to book limos and taxis, and AirBnB and HotelTonight, both for finding accommodations, are becoming popular as are payment apps such as Square, and Apple’s introduction of the Passbook.