Gov. Christie First Term Report CardPrivacyC-

Standing Up for Privacy

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Gov. Christie has taken some laudable stands on privacy. He has also tried to balance the needs of adoptees seeking their birth certificates with the privacy rights of women who gave up their children for adoption by adding a provision to a bill that would give birth mothers the power to choose whether to release their information publicly.33

At the end of the 215th legislative session, Christie pocket vetoed a bill that would have expanded the state’s DNA databank further by allowing law enforcement to collect DNA from individuals convicted of certain disorderly persons offenses, including shoplifting, which would have violated privacy and due process rights. The pocket veto means that the bill will not be returned to the Legislature for a possible vote to override. Gov. Christie commendably rejected this additional assault on privacy.34

Real Invasions of Privacy

Gov. Christie just as often overlooks privacy rights, however. The ACLU-NJ’s last report card took note of the law he signed allowing police to take samples of individuals’ DNA upon arrest, even if they have not been convicted of a crime.35

In January 2014, Gov. Christie pocket vetoed a bill that would have protected the privacy of New Jerseyans from drone surveillance by law enforcement before drones come to New Jersey’s air space in 2015.36 He provided no explanation for rejecting a bill that passed both chambers of the legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support. Gov. Christie’s veto puts the privacy rights of New Jersey residents in limbo.

In one of its boldest anti-privacy moves yet, the Christie administration attempted to implement the federal Real ID Act in 2012. Real ID would have created an interlinked database containing sensitive documents, such as birth certificates and social security cards, with the federal government and the motor vehicle databases of 50 other states, and would have taken the nation down the road to a national ID card system. The Christie administration tried to implement the program without any public assurances that personal and private data would be protected from identity thieves. Although the ACLU-NJ stopped the program through a lawsuit,37 the Christie administration did not rule out the possibility of changing driver’s licensing restrictions to conform to Real ID.38

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Related Content

33 Associated Press, “Christie conditionally vetoes N.J. adoption Bill,” USA Today, June 23, 2011, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-06-23-new-jersey-adoption-records_n.htm

34 S436, Session 215 of the New Jersey Legislature, 2012, https://legiscan.com/NJ/text/S436/id/516507/New_Jersey-2012-S436-Introduced.html

35 Kain, Erik, “New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Signs Controversial DNA Law,” Forbes.com, Aug. 23, 2011, http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/08/23/new-jersey-governor-chris-christie-signs-controversial-dna-law/

36 “ACLU-NJ Statement on Pocket Veto of Drone Bill,” aclu.org, Jan. 21, 2014, https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-nj-statement-pocket-veto-drone-bill?redirect=national-security/aclu-nj-statement-pocket-veto-drone-bill

37 “State Settles ACLU-NJ Lawsuit by Agreeing to Drop Tru-ID Program,” aclu.org, Oct. 5, 2012, https://www.aclu-nj.org/news/2012/10/05/drop-tru-id-program

38 Frassinelli, Mike, “N.J. drops plan to require extra documents to get driver’s license,” The Star-Ledger, Oct. 5, 2012, http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/10/nj_drops_plan_to_require_addit.html

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