Your Rights Online: Montana City Requires Workers' Internet Accounts

Bob Hubbard

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Your Rights Online: Montana City Requires Workers' Internet Accounts on Thursday June 18, @02:17PM

Posted by timothy on Thursday June 18, @02:17PM
from the are-you-now-or-have-you-ever-been dept.
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justinlindh writes "Bozeman, Montana is now requiring all applicants for city jobs to furnish Internet account information for 'background checking.' A portion of the application reads, "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, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc.' The article goes on to mention, 'There are then three lines where applicants can list the Web sites, their user names and log-in information and their passwords.'"
 
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Bob Hubbard

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'There are then three lines where applicants can list the Web sites, their user names and log-in information and their passwords.'"

Riiiiight. Sorry, can't do that. I signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement that supersedes their insane, and unsafe demand. I think the technical reply rhymes with "throw we".
 
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Only if you want to work for the government. I hear the monitoring chips are on order too. LOL.
 

Carol

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Employment applicants in the public sector tend to go through a more vigorous screening process than in the private sector (labor law risks, etc). Montana is the one state out of 50 that does not recognize employment on an "at will" basis, which could be a reason for an even more careful screening and selection process.

That being said, I think what the city is asking for is ridiculous. This strikes me as a reactive, and not a proactive measure. In other words, this reads to me as if the city got screwed by someone acting inappropriately online, and they did not have the disciplinary structure in place to deal with it effectively. That is not a problem that is going to be solved with gimmicky tactics such as asking people for their Facebook password. Its solved with getting to know the candidate before making a hiring decision, and having a discipline structure in place that reflects the goals of the city.

In addition to being stupid, such a practice could put the employer at tremendous amount of risk, both in terms of cyberspace law and labor law. What if a Latino candidate is turned down and takes the issue to court because his MySpace and YouTube account are filled with Catholic imagery and homages to Tejano culture?

I don't think the city needs website passwords, I think the city needs better HR practices.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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Also, many sites (this is one) has a "give out your password, you get banned" policy. I'm sure it's also buried somewhere in Facebook, myspace, etc TOS.
 
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yep, I was right:

Facebook TOS 4.6
"You will not share your password, let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account."

Myspace TOS
"Password. When you sign up to become a Member, you will also be asked to choose a password. You are entirely responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your password. You agree not to use the account, username, or password of another Member at any time or to disclose your password to any third party...."


 

celtic_crippler

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Common sense would dictate that this couldn't possibly hold any water in a court of law.

But then, when's the last time you saw common sense in the grand bureaucracy?
 

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Employment applicants in the public sector tend to go through a more vigorous screening process than in the private sector (labor law risks, etc).

I thought the same thing myself until my personal experience led me to conclude otherwise, at least in my own case.

I had worked for a large global firm for several years. They did an extremely thorough background check on everybody they hired (even though the firm has nothing to do with the military, law enforcement, etc.). They even verified that I went to high school where my resume said I did - 26 years after I had graduated.

I left the firm after a few years, and the next job I took was at a public university in New Jersey. It's considered something called a state agency: it's not literally part of the apparatus of the State of New Jersey, but it gets about half of its funding from the state, and full-time employees get the states' benefit programs.

They did no background check whatsoever. I found out later, as part of my job responsibilities, that they do no background checks in general.

They even did a sloppy job of managing the I9 process (the process of enforcing federal law governing employment eligibility in the US), which I also found out as a result of my job responsibilities.

I imagine that it varies from one state/municipality to the next. I was quite surprised that this university didn't do any type of background check on new hires.

As for Bozeman's policy, it should be interesting to see if anybody challenges it in court (let's hope so), and how the legal wrangling goes.
 
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CoryKS

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"I cannot answer this question as asked. For details, see section 34tm3".
 

shesulsa

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** scratches Montana off the list **
 
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People will do it because they are ****ing stupid.
 

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I don't know if it'd stand up as a pre-employment condition.

It might stand up as a condition after at least a conditional job offer.

Even then, though, it's not a good policy. For some positions of trust (cops, EMS, related positions, town/city managers, etc), I could see requesting a list of places where you frequent/are members... but why do they need the password? So they can see the private areas? If they need to see them -- there's a simple legal method to find out what the applicant is posting.
 
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The city wants their applicants to break someone elses rules and trust so they know that the applicant can be trusted to follow the cities rules.

Anyone else see the problem with this idea?
 

Empty Hands

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Only if you want to work for the government. I hear the monitoring chips are on order too. LOL.

I wouldn't count on that. Private companies already do extensive searches on websites like Facebook, and have used that information in hiring/firing decisions. If you make the company "look bad" at any particular point, on company time or not, you can be fired. On premises, your email and internet use is stringently monitored. I have no doubt that this sort of thing will start cropping up more specifically in the private sector. After all, big companies have "image management" to think of as well.
 
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True, but there's a difference between checking what is out there, and turning over your passwords. I mean, would you give a potential employer your house keys?
 

jks9199

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I wouldn't count on that. Private companies already do extensive searches on websites like Facebook, and have used that information in hiring/firing decisions. If you make the company "look bad" at any particular point, on company time or not, you can be fired. On premises, your email and internet use is stringently monitored. I have no doubt that this sort of thing will start cropping up more specifically in the private sector. After all, big companies have "image management" to think of as well.

True, but there's a difference between checking what is out there, and turning over your passwords. I mean, would you give a potential employer your house keys?

It's not at all uncommon anymore to check various web sites during applications and backgrounds -- but, as Bob said, there's a difference between checking what you've put out there and demaning your passwords.

My employer has no right and no need to know what goes on behind the scenes here, for example, and if they do -- they have legal means to get that information without asking me for it. If they want to know where I am a member and post regularly (you may note that I go to lengths to avoid naming my employer... and make it clear when I'm talking about my opinion so that it's not accidently interpreted somehow being official.
 

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