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Burzichelli: Login Denied

Assemblyman Introducing Legislation to Bar Employers from Requiring Applicants to Hand Over Login Information for Social Networking Profiles

Amidst growing reports of private businesses demanding Facebook login information from job applicants, Assemblyman John Burzichelli is introducing legislation that would bar employers from requiring current or prospective employees from submitting to the invasive practice as a condition of employment.

“This is a huge invasion of privacy. It’s really no different than asking someone to turn over a key to their house,” said Burzichelli (D- Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “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.”

Specifically, the legislation would 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.

Burzichelli noted that there may be certain types of employment where this added layer of scrutiny might be warranted and he intends to address that as they move forward.

The bill would also prohibit an employer from requiring a prospective employee to waive or limit any protection granted under the bill as a condition of applying for or receiving an offer of employment. The bill also prohibits retaliation or discrimination against an individual who might file a complaint or testify as part of an investigation into violations of the law.

Violations of the provisions of the bill would carry civil penalties up to $1,000 for the first violation and $2,500 for each subsequent violation.

Burzichelli noted that the rise of social networking sites has made it more commonplace for employers to review publicly available Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts and other such sites, however he questioned the legality of demanding login information from applicants.

“At the very least, this practice is highly invasive. Where do you draw the line? What’s next? Requiring a spouse or parent’s login information? When job applicants still heavily outweigh available openings, most people don’t have the luxury of standing up to a prospective employer and denying this type of request. We need to put the brakes on this coercive practice now,” added Burzichelli.

The bill will formally be introduced the next time the Assembly is in session.