City Wants Job Seekers’ Facebook Passwords

Software’s Sublimation by Alex Goldman (bio)

Data’s diffusion throughout business and into the cloud

The list of Internet-ignorant government actions grew by one, although that list was already quite long.

A CBS affiliate reported that the city of Bozeman, Mont. is demanding not just account names but also passwords for applicants’ “current personal or business Web sites, Web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo,, MySpace, etc.”

Greg Sullivan, the city’s attorney claimed that the city government needs to do investigations for positions of integrity but that the city also respects privacy rights.

The journalist covering the story, Dan Boyce, pointed out that in the case of Facebook, the city need only create its own Facebook account and ask applicants to “friend” it online.

On the Web, observers were suspicious of Sullivan’s claims. One BoingBoing commenter asked for a legal opinion. “In an interview, they couldn’t ask me about my religion, my marital status, my politics, and various other prohibited categories. That’s black-letter federal law that every employer knows, especially employers with in-house government-paid lawyers,” the commenter noted

“My Facebook page alone has all that information and more, most of it conveniently gathered together in a little box,” the commenter added. “I know the bar for discrimination lawsuits is pretty high, but wouldn’t any rejected applicant have a real leg up given that there’s no way the city could claim it didn’t know it was demanding information it wasn’t entitled to know?”

[Continue reading this blog post at Software’s Sublimation by Alex Goldman]

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