TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — An Assembly committee has approved measures aimed at stoppingemployers and educational institutions in New Jersey from asking for social media user names and passwords.
The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee on Thursday voted 3-0 for the bills, with one abstention. The bills would prohibit employers, colleges and universities from requiring current or prospective employees or students to disclose user names or passwords for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
They also would prohibit asking current or prospective employees or students if they have an account on a social media or networking site.
The bills' sponsor said they offer protections for citizens by updating rules that already exist on what employers can ask for.
"It's not complicated," said Assemblyman John Burzichelli, a Democrat. "All of us have watched technology evolve around us. What was not there 20 years ago is part of today's general routine."
He said citizens are especially vulnerable in today's economy, and noted employers can already find much of what current or prospective employees are doing in the online public domain without asking for account names or passwords.
"A person is entitled to privacy, understanding that what you do on the Internet is in large part public anyway," Burzichelli said.
Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, also a Democrat, said the practice is invasive and raises questions about where to draw the line.
"With the economy still struggling to gain traction, most people don't have the luxury of standing up to a prospective employer and denying this type of request," he said.
But several representatives of business groups told lawmakers the bill could lead to expensive lawsuits. They also want exceptions for investigating claims against employees, like insider trading or sexual harassment.
Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove abstained from voting, saying she wanted lawmakers to better clarify how the bills would affect businesses first.
"I'm not saying no to the bill, but at this time I'm going to abstain because I just want to see it refined a little more," said Gove, a Republican. "We want it to be right for both the employerand the employee and not rush it. It's too important."
The measures now head to the full Assembly for consideration.