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Montana City Requires Workers' Internet Accounts 836

Posted by timothy
from the are-you-now-or-have-you-ever-been dept.
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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Montana City Requires Workers' Internet Accounts

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  • WTF (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:19PM (#28377255) Homepage Journal

    They are seriously asking for people's passwords? If this some kinda of social engineering test where if you actually put them down you fail?

    • Re:WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sys.stdout.write (1551563) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:19PM (#28377283)
      If there weren't people over 50 I wouldn't be so scared...
    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

      by emudoug42 (977380) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:28PM (#28377461)

      Ok, new plan:

      1) Make up phony job.
      2) Put up lots of "now hiring" signs.
      3) Ask for online account information, passwords.
      4) Massive credit card fraud -- chances are people use the same passwords for everything
      5) PROFIT!

    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Funny)

      by e9th (652576) <e9th&tupodex,com> on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:36PM (#28377627)
      The ad is actually for positions in their sister city, Bozeman, Nigeria.
    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CecilPL (1258010) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:54PM (#28379363)
      Many of these sites have Terms of Service stating that you are not to share your account information, including passwords, with a third party.

      Since we all know that breaking a website's TOS is a felony [slashdot.org], any applicant who fills this form should be thrown in jail.

      And whoever designed the application form should be charged with aiding and abetting a felony.
  • by javelinco (652113) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:20PM (#28377299) Journal
    If they are able to hire people with these policies, then they are hiring people that they deserve, and those being hired are getting what they deserve. I honestly cannot envision going into a job interview and writing down, on a piece of paper that will end up who knows where, all of my user names and passwords, for every account I have on the Internet. I have trouble envisioning the idiots who would do so, but I'm guessing they look like the people who came up with this policy. And they deserve each other.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sweatyboatman (457800)

      I would like to mod you "Right On" but there is no such option.

    • by NovaHorizon (1300173) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:30PM (#28377499)

      I have trouble envisioning a piece of paper large enough for all of my login accounts, let alone 3 lines. And I hope they understand when I just give 5 passwords at the top and tell them to keep trying for each site cause I don't remember which password goes with which account :|

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MadCow42 (243108)

      I'd agree with you 100% in any other economy. People have very few employment options these days, and will make sacrifices they wouldn't otherwise consider.

      I can't see how this is legal. They can't even claim that it's "optional" because it would be too easy to discriminate against those that leave it blank. Incredible...

      MadCow.

  • Unpopular (Score:5, Informative)

    by mlingojones (919531) * on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:21PM (#28377315) Homepage

    According to the online poll accompanying the article, 98% of respondents think it's an invasion of privacy.

    That's as big a landslide as it gets, folks.

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:28PM (#28377459) Journal

      That's as big a landslide as it gets, folks.

      Well, technically, no. It could be 99% [1].

      I mean, I get your point, but on a site filled with pedants, most of them highly attuned to mathematics, perhaps that wasn't the best choice of words.

      [1] 99% is as big a landslide as it gets. 100% would mean the land was falling, not sliding. Assuming that the percentage in a landslide victory correlates to the slope of the surface the land is sliding along.

      Oh crap... I've opened the door for the pedants to tar and feather me as well, haven't I?

      *exchanges tinfoil suit for flame-retardant suit*

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Actually, per the density the real numbers, there is no "biggest" landslide, values, since, if $x<1$, $(x+1)/2$ will still be less than unity, but also be larger than $x$. To quote a wise man (I assume; if not please allow me to buy you a drink to make it up to you),

        I mean, I get your point, but on a site filled with pedants, most of them highly attuned to mathematics, perhaps that wasn't the best choice of words.

    • by alexlm (1374833) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:28PM (#28377469)
      How are there even 2% that don't consider it an invasion of privacy?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mrcaseyj (902945)

      So what if the employer is a Republican and you're a Democrat (or vice versa) and you've been participating in private Internet forums where you discuss political strategy? What if you've been communicating with your lawyer over a private Internet forum? What if you've been collaborating with partners on an invention you plan to patent over a private Internet forum. Does your prospective employer have a right to access all your private Internet communications? Why not just insist that all prospective employ

  • by Viros (1128445) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:23PM (#28377331)
    Why should workers have to supply personal information that isn't in any way relevant to the job? Why should workers give their bosses the means to invade on their personal lives? I realize there are cases (mainly national security type jobs) that may view these as compromising security, but then they should only require NDAs or, at worst, closing these accounts.
  • by Benanov (583592) <brian.kemp@NOSpAM.member.fsf.org> on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:23PM (#28377337) Journal

    FTFA: "No one has ever removed his or her name from consideration for a job due to the request, Sullivan added."
    Then they're getting exactly what they asked for. Considering that users will hand out their passwords for a chocolate bar, this sort of line doesn't scare me much any more. Is that sad or am I just bitter?

    If pressed, I would consider handing out the *wrong* passwords, though; when they come back saying they couldn't log in, I'd alert it to the sites in question as a TOS violation, employment discrimination, etc..

    • by multisync (218450) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:46PM (#28377895) Journal

      Then they're getting exactly what they asked for. Considering that users will hand out their passwords for a chocolate bar, this sort of line doesn't scare me much any more. Is that sad or am I just bitter?

      That's an excellent point. It sounds like the city of Bozeman is setting itself up to be perfect target for social engineering. By selecting people who would put all of their usernames and passwords on a job application, they'll end up hiring people who would probably be just as happy to dole out information about their accounts on the city's network. Might be fun to see if whomever answers the phone at city hall would like to help "Tom from IT" resolve a printer issue by giving him her username and password.

      Then again, maybe this is a clever way of not hiring people who would fall for that.

  • by Derekloffin (741455) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:23PM (#28377341)
    That is just plain moronic. You do NOT ask for people's passwords ever. That's bloody ridiculous. You'll get a total of two types, liars who give you nothing or fakes, or idiots you actually give you this info.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      You'll get a total of two types, liars who give you nothing or fakes, or idiots you actually give you this info.

      hang on. I now see the logic in this.

      this is for GOVERNMENT work. I think you just described the ideal government civil-service worker!

      maybe there's more thought to this than it appears.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You'll get a total of two types, liars who give you nothing or fakes, or idiots you actually give you this info.

        hang on. I now see the logic in this.

        this is for GOVERNMENT work. I think you just described the ideal government civil-service worker!

        maybe there's more thought to this than it appears.

        Oh hi. I'm a rocket scientist. Welcome to NASA, your friendly national air and space administration, run by civil servants.

  • by ATestR (1060586) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:23PM (#28377343) Homepage
    "Please list any and all, current personal or business websites..." Really? Even if they can justify asking for personal information, business websites could include things like previous employer intranet logins, personal bank accounts, etc. If presented with a job application that included this kind of stuff, I would run, not walk, to the nearest exit.
  • Real Opportunity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:24PM (#28377357) Homepage Journal

    1. Create Account with social site
    2. Put name and password on app
    3. Wait for it to be leaked and abused
    4. Profit!

    No need to get a job - this is like money in the bank.

    • by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:38PM (#28377681)
      Hell don't even wait for it to be abused.

      Abuse it yourself and claim that the City did it!

  • by iron-kurton (891451) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:24PM (#28377367)
    I just told them that even if I wrote down passwords, they are all written in Klingon and are only usable on Klingon keyboards, so they would be of no use to them. I was hired on the spot.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mcgrew (92797)

      HR manager: "I'm trying to find this 'Klingonia' on the map, is that enywhere near Yugoslavia?"

  • by Tilzs (959354) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:24PM (#28377369)
    It has come to our attention that you lied or omitted information on your employment application. We have found out that you neglected to mention that you registered at creative.com 8 years ago to download some drivers and 3 years ago at dvorak.org/blog when you posted "get of my lawn".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:25PM (#28377391)

    So, they are offically asking to violate the Terms of Service of all of these services?
    I'm sure that each one has a policy about not sharing login information for your personal accounts.

    What's next, asking for your login for your banking information, so they can see how you spend your personal money?

    Personal background checks are fine (and valid for many jobs, maybe not for a rank-and-file city job, but meh).
    But they need to be done properly and honestly. This is just a really lazy and silly way to do it.
    Obviously this policy and application wasn't vetted by anyone with a clue.

  • What else? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swb (14022) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:26PM (#28377417)

    Maybe my bank access info?

    Keys to my house?

    Maybe a beaver shot of my wife?

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:26PM (#28377421)

    There is a LOT of stuff that prospective employers can't ask you [hrworld.com] (race, sex, family status, disability, etc.). One of those things is asking you about social organizations you belong to (presumably because someone could derrive illegal information from this like your age, nationality, religion, etc.). Asking for your Facebook/Myspace/etc. information would almost CERTAINLY fall under this (since things like age/sex/etc. are standard categories on most social websites, and this information is supposed to be basically anonymous) and is really opening them up for a rather impolite visit from the EEOC [eeoc.gov].

    I suspect that, in these hard times, it's just that no one has bothered to file a claim against them yet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AndersOSU (873247)

      In spite of what HR related websites want you to believe it's not illegal to ask any of those questions. What it is, is a Real Bad Idea (TM). It's illegal to discriminate on the basis of a protected class, but it isn't illegal to ask per se. If you're foolish enough to ask one of those questions, it does leave you wide open to a law suit - but that suit is going to allege you discriminated based on that information, and they're most likely going to need some demographic information from your company to s

  • by Danathar (267989) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:27PM (#28377441) Journal

    They DID say "Please"...

  • also... (Score:5, Funny)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:28PM (#28377449) Homepage

    Further instructions on the form:

    16d. Please analyze your own handwriting for us, and supply a full report on whether the results show that you may be predisposed to workplace violence.

    16e. Please build your own polygraph machine, administer the test to yourself, and let us know whether it turns up any proclivity for white collar crime.

  • Most of those sites (if not all of them) probably state in the TOS that you are not to share your login information. So... they're asking people to violate their agreements, and won't hire people who refuse. For example, Facebook's Terms [facebook.com] section 4 item 6 states "You will not share your password, let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account."

    Brilliant. If you want to bribe a city official, go to Bozeman, because they only hire people who violate policy.

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:28PM (#28377471)

    User: Anonymous Coward
    Password:FAH-Q

  • by spidercoz (947220) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:36PM (#28377645) Journal
    Isn't that where the Vulcans landed?
  • by rbrander (73222) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:39PM (#28377709) Homepage

    We all know to Net-proof kids right from single-digit ages not to provide identifying information to electronic correspondents that might be predators.

    Now we're going to have to remember that "predators" needs to include "employers over a decade from now that may seize upon internet forum posts to take away your job or ruin your life".

    So, kids: always set up accounts under a pseudonym. Use DIFFERENT pseudonyms. Strictly limit the friends that can connect your True Name (thx, Vernor Vinge) to your pseudonyms. And do not provide specific identifying information in any post. In forums that require True Names to work right (facebook), have Mom & Dad help you learn to consider words, and especially photos, carefully.

    What they post at nine won't be held against them, but if you start developing their radar early, the appropriate attitudes of privacy and subterfuge will be reflexive by the late teens.

    As for that first generation now looking for their first jobs with all kinds of youthful exuberance on the internet not staying on the internet - yikes, sorry, you're screwed. As the joke poster says, it may be your job to provide an example to others.

  • My password (Score:4, Insightful)

    by selven (1556643) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:50PM (#28377997)
    is a complete hex string of the pirated Wolverine mp3. Store that in your database, suckers!
  • by evil_aar0n (1001515) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @02:59PM (#28378211)

    When this gets bounced out of court as un-Constitutional, I hope the city fires their attorney, Greg Sullivan. It's one thing for a clueless HR person to come up with BS like this, but it's the job of people like Sullivan to review it for legality issues. This guy is clearly not up to the job if he allowed this to pass.

    And, really, if I give them no information at all, how are they going to prove it? "Anyone not here, please raise your hand."

  • You know what to do (Score:5, Informative)

    by stbill79 (1227700) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:37PM (#28379007)

    I've just contacted the Montana ACLU Here [aclumontana.org]

    The article links to a video interview with Greg Sullivan Bozeman City Attorney here [montanasnewsstation.com] (right side of page), who defends the policy.

    His Contact info:

    City Attorney Greg Sullivan gsullivan@bozeman.net 406-582-2309

    What I just emailed off to Mr. Sullivan

    Greg Sullivan

    Your city's requirement for job applicants to provide a list of all personal internet memberships, logins, and passwords has recently come to my attention. I have just requested that the Montana ACLU investigate this policy as it seems a severe invasion of privacy. I have always appreciated the state of Montana's noble defense of the Constitution, exemplified with recent decisions by the state to support 2nd amendment rights. Your city's applicant policy is the exact opposite of what I'd expect from the state of Montana, and I would urge you to seriously reconsider this requirement.

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