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Christie puts stop to so-called 'Facebook bill'

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Gov. Chris Christie on Monday conditionally vetoed the so-called “Facebook bill” that would limit the amount of information job candidates would have to disclose to prospective employers of their social media activity.

Chris Christie

The governor's action won support from the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, which called Christie's action a fair balance.

The privacy concerns of job candidates "must be balanced against an employer's need to hire appropriate personnel, manage its operations, and safeguard its business assets and proprietary information," Christie wrote in his veto message Monday. "Unfortunately, this bill paints with too broad a brush."

The bill would prohibit employers from requesting current or prospective employees to disclose their username, password or other information used to access a profile on personal social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter.

The New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance thinks Christie did the right thing.

"The veto language he sent over strikes the right balance between protecting employee privacy while also ensuring that employers are not subject to litigation," said Marcus Raynor, executive director of the NJLRA, in a statement.

Raynor said one of the reasons the NJLRA is against the bill in its current form is that a business could be sued for even asking if a candidate has a social media account. Under the current wording of the bill, an employer interviewing someone for a marketing job would not be allowed to ask about the candidate's use of social media in order to gauge his or her technological skills and media savvy, even if that is the experience they were looking for in a candidate. It also would have allowed prospective employees to sue the employer for violation of privacy.

"That was our big issue," Raynor said. "We thought that was overreaching. Disgruntled employees or enterprising people could easily take advantage of that. We agree that employers should not be able to demand a password or violate privacy in any way, but some employers want to hire someone specifically because of their experience on Facebook or Twitter."

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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