NJ bill protects employees' social media privacy

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August 30, 2013

New Jersey

By Megan Busse

Trenton, New Jersey: Republican Governor Chris Christie signed a new bill into law that prevents companies from forcing their employees to surrender their social media names and passwords. The move comes as more and more companies are requiring social media passwords as terms of employment. The bipartisan measure was conditionally vetoed in May by Christie--he wanted to see the bill "more properly balance between protecting the privacy of employees and job candidates, while ensuring that employers may appropriately screen job candidates, manage their personnel, and protect their business assets and proprietary information."[1]

The bill, which goes in effect four months from now, will fine companies that request or demand workers' passwords. The first fine is $1,000. A second offense results in a $2,500 fine. In addition, workers can sue if they lose their jobs, are denied promotions or are not hired as a result of the company's social media intrusion.[1]

A similar bill passed in December 2012, prevents universities from asking college applicants for their social media passwords. Schools that violate this law can be sued by the student.[2]