The bill, which passed 77-0, would fine companies $1,000 for the first offense and $2,500 each time after, according to an article on NJ.com. Also, employees can sue. A similar federal bill failed to pass Congress in March, but at least ten other state legislatures have introduced similar measures.
Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester), a sponsor of the bill, said in May, “In this job market, especially, employers clearly have the upper hand. 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.”
Another bill, which passed 75-0, would prohibit colleges and universities from requiring students to let them access their accounts, though the bill does not set a fine.
Prospective college graduate Daniel Reyes wrote about the issue in the Jersey Journal from his perspective:
As a 22-year-old college student nearing graduation, job interviews are on the horizon as I join the thousands upon thousands of recent grads clawing for the safety net of employment.
While it may seem brash to declare this so prematurely, potential employers that ask for my passwords to Facebook, Twitter, etc. are going to be sorely disappointed, I hope, when I walk out of the interview.
I have nothing to hide, mind you, my Twitter account is open to the public and there’s a distinct absence of pictures that would possibly bar me from getting a job; it’s mostly on principle.
It’s a thin line employers are walking when they start asking for passwords prior to clocking in, or out, for the day before everything looks eerily similar to 1984.
What do you think of the new bill? Should employers be able to know what their potential hires are up to in their personal cyberspace worlds, or is it an unconscionable invasion of privacy to demand access to someone’s social media sites?
Tell us in comments.