Want a job? Then give us your social networking passwords

Filed Under: Data loss, Social networks

File this one under "bonkers bureaucracy".

According to media reports, the city of Bozeman in Montana has been insisting that prospective employees seeking a job with the city must not only reveal if they have accounts with the likes of Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo, Google and YouTube, but must also hand over their user ids and passwords.

The request from the City of Bozeman comes in the form of a form giving consent for a background check to be made on prospective job applicants.

City of Bozeman form

I don't know about you, but I would have a real problem with some Tom, Dick or Harry poking around in my Facebook or Google Mail account, rummaging around to see if they can find anything unsavoury. Sure, I don't have a problem if a prospective employer checks out my public profile or wants to see what I've chosen to publish to the whole wide world, but you have got to be kidding me that my privacy can be invaded to this extent.

I would have to be daft to hand over my password to a random person deep in the bowels of Bozeman city authorities, in the hope that I might be lucky enough to get a job there.

So I for one am very pleased to see that the City of Bozeman has bowed to the pressure of the internet, which was high critical of their password-demanding policy. On Friday they announced that they had seen sense and would no longer be asking job applicants for their internet passwords.

This time common sense prevailed. But how long before another company or organization act like the bozos of Bozeman and demand private personal passwords from their workers?

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.