Bozeman’s Hot Idea

July 16, 2009

I have had several conversations with individuals who have had in the course of their working lives some connection with law enforcement and military intelligence. What I learned was that the Bozeman idea has traction. The “Bozeman idea” is the requirement for city job applicants to provide their social networking details. Among the details requested as part of the job application process was log in details for social networking services.

According to the Montana News Station’s “Bozeman City Job Requirement Raises Privacy Concerns”,

The requirement is included on a waiver statement applicants must sign, giving the City permission to conduct an investigation into the person’s “background, references, character, past employment, education, credit history, criminal or police records.” “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,, MySpace, etc.,” the City form states. There are then three lines where applicants can list the Web sites, their user names and log-in information and their passwords.

What I have now learned is that a number of European entities are discussing the Bozeman idea. Early word – unofficial, of course – is that Bozeman has had a Eureka! moment. Monitoring is much easier if one can log in and configure the system to push information to the interested party.

I am on the fence with regard to this matter. Interesting issue.

Stephen Arnold, July 16, 2009


7 Responses to “Bozeman’s Hot Idea”

  1. Catherine van Zuylen on July 16th, 2009 1:46 am

    This is so completely wrong that I barely know what to say. What’s next? Asking you for the keys to your house?

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  3. Tom Gottweis on July 16th, 2009 11:25 am

    This policy has some serious first ammendment issues connected to it. What is next indeed, recordings of personal phone conversations, reading your mail, interviewing people you’ve slept with? What if Bozeman city officials disagree with your political affiliation? This is just begging for ACLU involvement.

  4. Walter Underwood on July 16th, 2009 12:29 pm

    Monitoring is easier, but at what cost, both in liberty and in risk?

    The government in Bozeman is nuts to take on this kind of liability. How do they safeguard that information? Do they log all the actions they take? What kind of insurance coverage do they have for accidental or malicious damage to people’s accounts and reputations? Do I have credit card protection against someone ordering things through a site when I willingly give them my password?

    It is one thing to for someone to hack Sarah Palin’s e-mail. It is entirely another to have the cleartext personal passwords for every city employee stored on some poorly-maintained city computer.

    Of course, this is possible to deal with, though it would be a hassle. Change all your passwords after you get the job.

    I like this attitude towards this sort of nonsense:

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