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NJ employers cannot force you to open Facebook

FBIn today’s digital age, what you post on social media stays with you; forever. You feel slightly anonymous as you sit behind your keyboard and type messages to friends, post commentary on current events, and even take part in a bit of celebrity bashing. The trouble is that you aren’t anonymous at all. In fact, in days gone by, Facebook and other social media outlets were considered public record. A new law in New Jersey is turning this idea on its head.

A state law went into effect in New Jersey on December 1, 2013, and it has people sitting up and taking notice. Workers in the state are now able to protect their personal pages from their boss’s prying eyes under the new law. Employers in New Jersey are now banned from requiring applicants or current employees from turning over passwords to Facebook and other online accounts. What was once considered public domain may not be so under the new law.

For employers who used public Facebook accounts as a way of vetting applicants, the law has come as a blow. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the law is a “smart idea.” According to many employers across the state, the law is a hindrance. Even though an employer can no longer force you to divulge passwords, here’s what they can do:

1. Access Public Information

If your Facebook account isn’t set up with the right privacy settings, it is still considered a public record of sorts. Any information posted to your profile that is immediately viewable by anyone else is also fair game for your employer.

2. Investigate Wrongdoings

If you choose to harass a coworker through your social media page, and that harassment affects the company, your employer has every right to investigate. If your workplace has strict policies on the behavior of its employees after hours and you choose to post suggestive photos, your employer, again, has every right to investigate.

3. Business Accounts

It is important to understand that the law has no effect on social media accounts that are set up for business purposes. For example, if you run your own company and apply for a job, your potential employer can ask you to allow access to your site.

The law is a big step towards separating a person’s work life from their private life. Proponents of the law are calling it a step in the right direction, advising that Facebook was never meant to be public record in the first place. Employers who violate the law, whether knowingly or not, are subject to a $1,000 fine for the first violation. Subsequent violations can cost employers $2,500. State governments around the nation are taking notice of this new legislation as, currently, there are fewer than a dozen states with similar laws in place. If the public sector and privacy-rights groups have any say, the law will become a template for others like it across the nation.

Florida gets sued over public records dispute

Rick ScottLawsuits were brought against Florida Governor Rick Scott and other top Florida officials, including the entire State Department, for allegedly failing to comply with the state’s laws on public records. The cases were filed by an attorney from Tallahassee, Steven Andrews, a long-time critic of the governor. [Read more...]

What you need to know about expungement in Florida

HandcuffsMost times, regrettable youthful mistakes haunt people in their adulthood. This is because after going through a judicial process in Florida, an incidence is incorporated into public records. Any person interested in your past can access the information and use it against you. Fortunately citizens in such situations can request the public records be expunged, altered or sealed. The Florida law gives more options regarding the alteration of public documents compared to other states to individuals who were cleared by the judicial system. If you are afraid of missing some opportunities because of your public records, it is wise to seal them. [Read more...]

Florida Keys school board to address public records controversy

Florida DOEWhat began as a controversy on salary increases given to 13 state employees has turned into a public records policy debate. At 3:30 PM on November 12, 2013 at Marathon High School, the thorny issue of public records policy will be a hot topic at a school board meeting. [Read more...]

California residents with a criminal record get a break

ApplicationThe State of California will no longer be asking those applying for jobs about their criminal past. This means, if you have a criminal record, it will not be part of the questions that you will expected to answer when you are seeking to be employed to work for the State of California. This law came into existence after recognition that the number of people on the workforce with criminal records has grown tremendously over the past few decades. The state had to do something so that it does not lockout people out of state jobs simply because of their criminal past. Statistics show that a quarter of Californians have a conviction record. Over 65 million people in the United States have spent sometime behind bars. These numbers were too high to be ignored by California law makers. [Read more...]

How to access public records in Florida

Public RecordsThe Florida State Public Records Act gives citizens the right to inspect a number of the state’s public records. Any person can inspect municipal, county or state information. This includes documents, maps, photographs, tapes, films, sound recordings and any other materials that came into existence when a government agency was conducting its official business. The request can be made in writing or verbally through the telephone. A written request is preferable if it is complicated or detailed. A telephone request on the other hand is a good choice if you need less detailed information quickly. You can also perform a quick online search on our Florida public records page. [Read more...]

City in Ohio will put digital scans of public documents online

North OlmstedIn general, it’s fairly easy to access public records in Ohio.  Anything that is maintained by the state or by a well funded government agency usually has a fairly robust system that is readily available. [Read more...]

Why mugshots should be removed from the public record

MugshotsThe New York Times ran a story last weekend which drew attention to a very nasty practice of certain websites. These sites make money by surfing police and sheriff databases for mugshots which they then post on their own websites and then charge those people in the mugshots money to remove their pictures. The fees for removal of the mugshot range from $195 to over $1,000.00 depending on the website. [Read more...]