New Jersey bill protects college students’ social media passwords, usernames

A bill awaiting the governor’s approval in New Jersey would make it illegal for colleges and universities to require students or applicants’ social media user names or passwords.

The bill prohibits both private and public colleges or universities from asking for social media passwords or usernames. It also prohibits those schools from requiring students to sign to waiver to limit their protection. Colleges would not be allowed to discriminate against or punish students or applicants who refuse to give up their online information.

Four other states are considering similar bills to protect students and applicants. New Jersey joins Delaware, which has a similar law in place.

Violation of the law would result in compensatory damages for the student or applicant, including attorney fees and court costs. If an applicant is rejected for refusing to turn over passwords, he or she would also be entitled to have the application reconsidered.

The Senate passed the bill on Oct. 25 by a vote of 38-0; it had earlier passed the Assembly. It is now waiting for Gov. Chris Christie’s signature.