Note: Missing Person Monday's post was moved to Saturday.
A few months ago, I blogged about how applicants to the NYPD were asked by agency background examiners to provide usernames and passwords to their social networking sites. Police background examiners have always had a reputation of being thorough—understandably, since officials don’t want to hand a city-issued Glock to an unstable employee who is going to screw-up and/or embarrass the department.
In my previous writing, I stated that I could see why the agency would want to learn everything about want-to-be police officers, but that I did not think it would stand-up to a court challenge; especially since NYPD apparently does not have a policy on the procedure.
Last week, the same issue appeared again in the news; this time in Bozeman, Montana:
If you’re planning to apply for a job with the city of Bozeman, prepare to clean up your Facebook page.The practice had started with police and fire applicants and then was expanded into all job seekers. The article continues that city officials were quickly meeting to study and likely amend the procedure.
As part of routine background checks, the city asks job applicants to provide their usernames and passwords for their social-networking sites. And it has been doing it for years, city officials said.
“Please list any and all, 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, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc.,” states a city waiver form applicants are asked to sign. Three lines are provided for applicants to list log-in information for each site.
City officials maintain the policy is necessary to ensure employees’ integrity and protect the public’s trust, but the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana says they may be crossing the line.
“I would guess that they’re on some shaky legal ground with this and we would certainly welcome (the opportunity) to look at something specific from somebody who’s impacted,” Executive Director Scott Crichton said Thursday.
He said Bozeman’s policy is unprecedented as far as he knows. ACLU’s legal counsel in Washington, D.C., had never heard of another city asking for log-in information for social networking sites as part of a job application.
“It’s like saying, ‘Let me look through your e-mails,’” Crichton said…
Well, late Friday they released this:
…"Effective at noon today, the City of Bozeman permanently ceased the practice of requesting that candidates selected for positions under a provisional job offer to provide their user names or passwords for candidates Internet sites," Bozeman City Manager Chris Kukulski said Friday….
This won't be the last time we see this issue in the news.
I just feel bad that I actually agreed with the ACLU on an issue…