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Gov. Christie Signs Facebook Password Bill Into Law

Gov. Chris Christie today signed into law an amended version that bars employers from requiring current or prospective employees to turn over their login information for social networking websites as a condition of employment.

The Governor conditionally vetoed the original version of the bill because he felt a provision that barred employers from asking a current or prospective employee if they have a personal account or profile on a social networking website could lead to frivolous lawsuits.

The full legislature eliminated the clause and passed the bill.

“In this job market, especially, employers clearly have the upper hand,” said Assemblyuman John Burzichelli, who co-sponsored the legislation. ”Demanding this information is akin to coercion when it might mean the difference between landing a job and not being able to put food on the table for your family. This is a huge invasion of privacy that takes ‘Big Brother’ to a whole new level. It’s really no different than asking someone to turn over a key to their house.”

The re-worked bill that is now law will prohibit an employer from requiring a current or prospective employee to provide or disclose any user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account or service through an electronic communications device.

It was amended to strike the clause prohibiting employers from asking a current or prospective employee if they have a personal account or profile on a social networking website.

“When people set these (social network accounts) up as a personal matter they have an expectation of privacy and this ensures that expectation will be met,” said Sen. Jim Whelan, another co-sponsor of the bill.   “Their employer, their boss can’t go to their Facebook account unannounced and, you know, rifle through it. With social media sites it’s a new world and the law has to try to stay current as much as we can.”

The bill was originally introduced amidst a rash of reports that private businesses were demanding Facebook login information from applicants. A companion bill that became law in December bars colleges and universities from doing the same.

 

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