The City of Bozeman, Mont., decided to abruptly suspend its practice of asking job seekers for the user names and passwords to their Internet social networking and Web groups such as YouTube and Facebook.
The city said the practice “appears to have exceeded that which is acceptable to our community.”
Ever since the policy was brought to light, Web forums have been abuzz and city officials flooded with phone calls. The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana immediately questioned the legality of the policy, saying it was like officials wanting “to look at your love letters and your family photos.”
The city initially argued that it only used the information to verify application information — and said it wouldn’t hold it against anyone for refusing to provide it.
But on June 19, the city issued a release saying it will suspend the practice until it conducts a further evaluation of the policy. The city said it had begun reviewing the policy once it began receiving media inquiries on the matter this week.
“We appreciate the concern many citizens have expressed regarding this practice and apologize for the negative impact this issue is having on the City of Bozeman,” City Manager Chris A. Kukulski said in a release.
He said the city had “permanently ceased the practice of requesting candidates selected for city positions under a provisional job offer to provide user names and passwords for the candidate’s Internet sites.”
But overall, this city was just suspending “its practice of reviewing candidate’s password-protected internet information until the city conducts a more comprehensive evaluation of the practice.”
City officials did not return calls seeking to clarify what aspect was being permanently ceased and what portions of its practice were simply being suspended.
The matter is likely to be discussed at a scheduled meeting of the Bozeman City Commission early next week.
The city application had been asking for complete login information for sites such as Facebook and YouTube.
Bozeman City Commissioner Jeff Rupp said earlier that city officials implemented the policy without going through the commission.
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