City Drops Quest For Job Seekers' Passwords

Faced with a nationwide backlash, the city of Bozeman, Mont., said late last week that it has stopped its loony practice of asking job applicants to provide their log-in data for social networking sites.

"The extent of our request for a candidate's password, user name, or other internet information appears to have exceeded that which is acceptable to our community," city manager Chris A. Kukulski said in what's probably the understatement of the week.

Kukulski also said the city would "suspend" the practice of reviewing information already disclosed pending further review.

The turnaround came approximately 24 hours after news surfaced that the city was asking prospective employees for their user names and passwords to Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and other Web sites. It's not yet clear how many people had already provided such information or how the city used it.

Meanwhile, the debacle raises significant questions about how far employers -- public or private -- can and should go to investigate people's online activity.

While Bozeman appears to have been unique in asking prospective employees to supply names and passwords, some employers appear equally disrespectful of the privacy of people already on the payroll. Consider this: A branch of Houston's restaurant recently fired a waitress and bartender for complaining about management in a post to a MySpace group they created. The group was password-protected, but Houston's management allegedly persuaded another employee to disclose her password.

Consider also, The Associated Press recently reprimanded an employee based on a Facebook post criticizing McClatchy's management, according to Wired. (McClatchy is an AP member.)

In that case, the employee had apparently friended others at the AP and presumably knew that management might be monitoring his posts. Still, there's something distasteful -- not to mention repressive -- about monitoring people's every online statement.

At least the city of Bozeman seems to have realized that, even if other employers have not.

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2 comments about "City Drops Quest For Job Seekers' Passwords ".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , June 22, 2009 at 5:56 p.m.

    If something is illegal, then the person(s) who committed the illegal act is prosecuted and punished and has a criminal record. Plus, file sharing is illegal and the person who committed that crime could be fined into the tens of thousands or millions. So what punishment of these perpetrators aka employers, municipal or private should be fined? These are federal crimes. The elimination of the problem by the city does not erase what has been done and those who are still criminals should just have to face more serious federal consequences. ACLU, where are you?

  2. Jim Taylor from Eternity Enterprises, LLC , June 22, 2009 at 8:40 p.m.

    Yeah!! This is good news. I replied to the other article.
    Great Work.....