It’s a sign of the times. Employers want to know who they’re “really” hiring. So they began asking for social networking passwords for an intimate glimpse.
Prospective employees were being asked to login during interviews. Students were being denied scholarships over content behind the privacy wall. It became so widespread that several states, including Maryland, Illinois, California, and now New Jersey have or are in the process of passing legislation to ban it.
The so-called “Facebook Bill” – S-1915 – advanced through the Senate Labor Committee, allowing many to breathe a sigh of relief as online privacy scores its first legislative victory. But in New Jersey’s version, there’s a problem.
Tucked away in Section 5, S-1915 would give current and prospective employees new grounds to sue businesses. Casual conversation over the mere existence of a social networking page with a subordinate, for instance, would become a thing of the past. Forgetting that could cost employers tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees – and it also gives the disgruntled ex-employee or the unqualified job applicant unprecedented leverage over their employer.
Senate President Sweeney expressed a willingness to hear the business community’s concerns, even though an amendment to remove the cause-of-action language in Section 5 failed to garner enough support.