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Facebook Privacy Protections To Be Considered By NJ Assembly Today [POLL/AUDIO]

There’s a growing trend of employers demanding Facebook passwords from potential employees. Some are also asking for access to all social media sites of which a job-seeker is a member.

Facebook Password Protection
Flickr User Codemaster Snake

This has certainly gotten the attention of one New Jersey lawmaker who is sponsoring one bill to make it illegal at a workplace and another to make sure colleges. Both measures are slated to be considered by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee today.

“In some job application circumstances employers are asking potential employees for password information so that the employer can go deeper into social network sites that the potential employee may be on,” explains Assemblyman John Burzichelli. “My bill says it would not be proper for the employer to ask the potential employee for that personal information as part of the application process and would not allow an employer to do that retroactively and call you into the office and say, ‘By the way if you’re participating in social media we want your password to your sites because we want to see who you’re talking to and who you’re affiliating yourself with.'”

Burzichelli acknowledges that anything already in the public domain is fair game for an employer to consider, but demanding passwords to social media sites is just wrong. He says the idea behind his bill, “Is to level the playing field so a person interviewing for a job is being evaluated on their credentials and their ability to do the job and their private lives, short of criminal convictions should be their business and not anyone else’s business.”

In some cases it has been reported that applicants have been asked to surrender their site usernames as well during the application process. In other cases, employers would request an applicant log-in during the interview process.

“It’s a huge problem,” says Lewis Maltby with National Workrights Institute in Princeton. “People say all sorts of things on their Facebook page that they don’t want the whole world to see, and employers want to get their hands on every piece of information they can about applicants.”

There are exemptions in Burzichelli’s legislation for law enforcement and any other job that already requires deep background checks. He says that’s just common sense.

As for his other measure Burzichelli explains, “We have a companion bill that will directly address college admissions and a college student’s right to privacy by saying a student wouldn’t have to give that information and the same goes if a student already enrolled is asked to do so.”

The law has to catch up with privacy issues in the Internet world according to Burzichelli.

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