City Asks Prospective Employees for Usernames and Passwords to Websites They Use

June 19th, 2009

Oh sure.

Via: Montana’s News Station:

Applying for a job with the City of Bozeman? You may be asked to provide more personal information than you expected.

That was the case for one person who applied for employment with the City. The anonymous viewer emailed the news station recently to express concern with a component of the city’s background check policy, which states that to be considered for a job applicants must provide log-in information and passwords for social network sites in which they participate.

The requirement is included on a waiver statement applicants must sign, giving the City permission to conduct an investigation into the person’s “background, references, character, past employment, education, credit history, criminal or police records.”

“Please list any and all, current personal or business websites, 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.,” the City form states. There are then three lines where applicants can list the Web sites, their user names and log-in information and their passwords.

5 Responses to “City Asks Prospective Employees for Usernames and Passwords to Websites They Use”

  1. sapphire Says:

    That’s ridicules! It is bad enough some employers subject potential employees to drug tests and personality tests. What next a video camera installed in peoples homes and cars to capture every moment of their lives. Hey why not tracking devices like criminals have to wear when under house arrest. This world is becoming more and more like the world described in the book 1984. Frankly it is none of their business what I blog about or post to my private Facebook account. That is way too nosy what they are doing and crosses the line in my book. I am surprised they don’t want to know how much money people have in their bank accounts and what they own in terms of material possessions. Say how many cars do you own and what is that house of yours worth. What about a person’s right to a certain amount of privacy or does that go out the window if you want a job. You have no privacy any more if you want to work for us is what they are saying. The sad thing is there are some people out there that would give up their right to privacy just to get a job. They don’t seem to understand and value their right to privacy.

  2. krimles Says:

    Let me get this right: all this access to personal information is to guard against terrorists and protect national security. So if this can be done, why was it not possible to break compensation contracts for executives when their companies went down the toilet and the taxpayer had to bail them out – isn’t that a REAL national security issue?

  3. lagavulin Says:

    This isn’t about terrorism or national security, this is about the fact that employees with personal lives tend to bad-mouth their jobs once in a while. Only nowadays it’s not while sitting on a bar-stool with a couple buddies, it’s on their website/twitter/myspace/whatever, and occasionally they say something that actually lets the world know how irresponsible the so-called “responsible” people in the world really are.

    But yes, this is all about corporate/government control issues in an era where those powers are being re-distributed.

  4. bloodnok Says:

    Never give your login credentials to a 3rd party. End of story. Facebook is a sinner in this regard when it requests webmail logins to find friends from your address book.

    The other side of the coin is this: Dont post on your blog, facebook or twitter anything that you wouldnt take out a full-page ad for in your local paper. Sure your boss might be a prick and sure you might think you’re just telling your mates about it on facebook, but once it’s searchable it’s about as private as yelling it from the rooftops.

  5. sapphire Says:

    Not all blogs and Facebook accounts are open to just anyone to read. There are privacy and privilege options on where you can have only friends and family post and read stuff on your blog. There are privacy settings on Facebook accounts so not anybody just can look at your Facebook account. True once something is posted to one of these sites it is in that sites database for a long time but people still have the anticipation of a certain amount of privacy especially when they use privacy settings on those sites. There was a fight recently between Facebook and users over the use of users’ pictures and who has the right to use them once they have been uploaded to a Facebook account.

    I don’t buy that old argument of if you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide. Some people may not want their boss or co-workers to know certain things about their personal life because they may not approve or it might be embarrassing or people at work may laugh at them. People don’t want to always to be going around with their guard up and have to dress in their Sunday best when they are not a work. They don’t want their online activity monitored on their off hours when they are using their own personal computer and internet connection at home. Many people take great pains to remain anonymous as they possibly can be on the internet and it is not necessarily because they are bad mouthing their boss on the internet, doing anything illegal, unethical or libel.

    Also giving out user names and passwords is a big no-no in most user agreements that you agree to when you sign up for an online service and can be cause for termination of the service if you are found to have given out your user name and password to other people.

    There is also no guarantee of what happens to your user names and passwords once you have given them to some potential employer. What are they going to do with that information once the hiring is done? Who will have access to those user names and passwords? This opens a whole new can of worms in terms of security of your online accounts and the sites that granted you the privilege of using their services.

    Another question is exactly what are they looking for when they want your user names and passwords to all your online accounts? You can’t tell me that the person doing the hiring wouldn’t be swayed by personal bias when they see what kind of music you like or what hobbies you have or who your friends and family are. So much for keeping things like your age, your level of physical attractiveness, sexual orientation, ethnicity, marital status, religious and political affiliations out of consideration when hiring. This could lead to unfair discrimination in the hiring process.

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