Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government News Your Rights Online

Bozeman, MT Drops Password Info Requirement 163

Posted by Soulskill
from the backlashed-into-submission dept.
mcmoodle writes "Bozeman, Montana has decided that they don't want applicant personal information after all, citing a worldwide backlash on the issue: '"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 usernames or passwords for candidates' internet sites," said Chris Kukulski, Bozeman City Manager. ... Kukulski says after a 90 minute staff meeting held earlier today, officials decided asking applicants to provide their passwords to sites such as Facebook or MySpace, "exceeded that which is acceptable to our community." Kukulski apologized for the negative impact the issue has generated from news organizations and blogs around the world.' I didn't have any doubt this would be immediately squashed. Now I'm just curious as to how many personal accounts they actually went through!"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bozeman, MT Drops Password Info Requirement

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 20, 2009 @05:21AM (#28400301)

    What else can we start worldwide backlashes against? They seem to fucking work.

    • by siloko (1133863) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @06:27AM (#28400593)
      I read: Re:Wow, worldwide backslashes.

      I thought you were proposing some new installation art. Big, fluffy backslashes shrewdly placed next to global landmarks to signify the growing dominance of technology over world culture.
      • Hmmm, maybe it will work for Windows!!!

        \\server\sharepoint

      • by mpeskett (1221084)
        The only problem would be that a big backslash would look like a big forward slash from behind, and just a vertical line from either side...
      • by mcgrew (92797)

        Dude, you need to step away from that Microsoft OS and either go outside, run a different OS, or just get on the internet. The backslash is one example of Microsoft's way of doing everything ass-backwards. Everyone else uses a forward slash.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Female sexual selectivity
    • by mellon (7048)

      I don't know. If I were a taxpayer in Bozeman, I think I'd still be pretty worried about potential liability issues. The mere fact that the policy was withdrawn doesn't entirely address that. From the summary, it sounds as if the person who instituted the policy in the first place thinks they went a little too far. I would want them to realize and internalize the understanding that what they did was not an error of degree, but of kind. Otherwise, they'll just make the same mistake again in some othe

    • by AlHunt (982887)

      >What else can we start worldwide backlashes against? They seem to fucking work.

      May I suggest a worldwide backlash against mandatory health insurance?
      http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/06/20/1844214 [slashdot.org]
      ... would require all Americans to obtain health insurance

  • We are the Law (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Saturday June 20, 2009 @05:21AM (#28400303)

    In a system like ours, each branch of government has a specific role to play. The legislature crafts and passes laws. The judiciary determines whether the laws are valid. And the executive branch takes actions prescribed by the laws.

    But only the executive branch has the power to actually do anything about the laws. It is almost a travesty how much power this puts into one single branch of government. Where we expect checks and balances, there is only unbalance in favor of the executive branch.

    FTFA:
    The city will continue using the internet as part of background checks to judge the character of applicants, and although the city will stop asking for passwords Kukulski says the passwords already given by previous applicants will remain the confidential property of the city.

    It doesn't matter if searching online is legal or not. In fact, it may be illegal to consider anonymous online sources as actionable information. As long as the executive branch says it is going to do something, there are no laws that can truly restrict it.

    • Re:We are the Law (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Celeste R (1002377) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @05:39AM (#28400389)

      Your analysis of the checks and balances system is a good one.

      Few companies are willing to stand up to abusive governments, especially when it's expensive to do so (lawyer fees, etc). Also, there are ways around the no-password thing (electronic surveillance is already here), and in general, passwords are not required when you play your trump card (we'll send the suits if you don't comply).

      Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The purpose of central government is regulation; because that is where power can be utilized in a non-biased fashion.

      Some would say that "bias is human" and such, but anyone can contrive an excuse to do something or not to do something. Placing the actions of the government (in this case, the hiring process) just to filter out applicants who say... have a fetish of any sort would have a hard time knowing whether or not their rejection was for that reason.

      It's not "wrong" for Bozeman to do what it's doing, but is it doing so with the appropriate regulations? Are things truly non-biased there, or does the system there need further tweaking? Those things should be brought to light, because a broken system only benefits a select few. Any executive decision needs the balance of proper legality.

      • Maybe it isn't illegal for them to have required that information, but I would consider it wrong to be required to hand over enough information for them to control the account. I like the fire metaphor of government, some is needed and quite beneficial, too much and it's destructive. Letting some possibly unaccountable power have that kind of access and control is too much. I'm surprised that it was a Montana city that did this, last I heard, there was a simmering anti-government sentiment there, I know

        • by Anonymous Coward

          According to the Lori Drew precedent, violating the ToS of a site is no different than hacking into that site. That makes it a conspiracy to violate the federal anti-hacking laws. Facebook and the other sites involved would be well within their rights not only to sue the city, but to have whoever came up with that policy arrested on federal hacking charges.

      • by Xyrus (755017)

        "Your analysis of the checks and balances system is a good one."

        Not quite. You see, the executive may be the enforcers, but they don't control the purse strings. That's congress.

        So you have congress controlling the money, the executive with the power of enforcement, and you have the judiciary with the....um...er...power to say in a really stern voice "You can't do that."

        Of the three branches, it's the Judiciary that is the weakest. If both the congress and the executive want to do something, they will regar

        • That's not the only fault with the system as it is.

          The Executive branch appoints the Justices (who can do it better? probably nobody). However, they can be selected to push an agenda.

          Take, for example, the Patriot Act. Everyone knows that it's unconstitutional, and yet it persists. I wouldn't be surprised if the Judges were getting some sort of kickback for taking the positions they take.

          This renders the Judiciary branch both weak and without a punch that's thrown, because it's the puppet branch.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mindstrm (20013)

      "As long as the executive branch says it is going to do something, there are no laws that can truly restrict it."

      The executive branch is subject to the same laws you and I are, at least in theory.

      I always thought the legislature could overturn and/or make new law. That's pretty powerful stuff - and as long as they stay within the confine s of the constitution, the judiciary can't do much about it. The judiciary CAN strike it down if it's unconstitutional.

      The executive is supposed to take care of *running t

      • by Quothz (683368)

        as long as they stay within the confine s of the constitution, the judiciary can't do much about it. The judiciary CAN strike it down if it's unconstitutional.

        People keep saying this in this thread. But the judiciary system can also issue writs, which are quite powerful enforcement tools. Injunctions and writs of mandamus, for example, are two writs that can be aimed directly at an executive branchketeer to force compliance.

  • Fascinating... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sorthum (123064) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @05:26AM (#28400325) Homepage

    Interesting that they declare the passwords they've already received to be the "property of the city."

    Bodes not well, that's for sure-- and it shows that the city still doesn't "get it." They likely just know that a lot of people got very upset, and figured they'd back away from something they just don't grasp...

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      The reality is that most of the elected representatives and employed professionals were largely unaware of what was going on. This is just the typical act of a power mad 'perve' someone who lies to pry into other people's lives, get a sexual kick out of having that level of control over other peoples lives.

      It would be really interesting to find out who put in that clause and thought it was suitable and who else knew about it.

    • Re:Fascinating... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EdIII (1114411) * on Saturday June 20, 2009 @06:17AM (#28400551)

      shows that the city still doesn't "get it." They likely just know that a lot of people got very upset, and figured they'd back away from something they just don't grasp...

      Kukulski says after a 90 minute staff meeting held earlier today, officials decided asking applicants to provide their passwords to sites such as Facebook or MySpace, "exceeded that which is acceptable to our community." Kukulski apologized for the negative impact the issue has generated from news organizations and blogs around the world.' I didn't have any doubt this would be immediately squashed. Now I'm just curious as to how many personal accounts they actually went through!"

      Yeah, I would say they don't fucking get it. It took them 90 minutes to decide it was a bad idea apparently and that the backlash was not worth it. 90 minutes. 1 1/2 HOURS. If they understood it at all, the implications of what they were doing, the violations of people's privacy and freedoms, it would *not* have taken anywhere near 90 minutes. I can imagine it was mostly about how they could spin it a different way and still get the information.

      You can see it was just marketing PR with their half-assed insincere apology about it being unacceptable to the community.

      Now their curious about how many accounts they actually got. Translation: "We had to stop doing it because of the whiners, but at least we got to find out how many people would put up with our shit".

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995)

        Looking back at history, people put up with feudalism for centuries and embraced fascism by the millions. It isn't real surprising that some bureaucrats think they need control over what the minions they hire think (a big part of the problem is that they think they have minions).

      • Now their curious about how many accounts they actually got.

        Actually, that was the submitter's comment, not the City Manager's comment.

      • by nester (14407)

        Maybe 85min was covered other things.

    • by deniable (76198)

      What exactly does the TOS for Myspace/Facebook et al have to say about this? Isn't sharing your password a no-no?

      The Lori Drew case showed that violating a website TOS is worth jail time, so I wonder what trouble the city has earned itself.

    • by Threni (635302)

      > Interesting that they declare the passwords they've already received to be the "property of the city."

      If only there were some way of changing your password...

    • by Sethumme (1313479)
      Of course, "property of the city" doesn't mean anything if they haven't already used those passwords to access the "private" information. If they're quick enough, the account holders can always change their passwords before big brother tries to take a peak. On the other hand, having user names and passwords are moot if the employer can find you online with a simple name search. If you publish it online, it's no longer private.
    • It bodes perfectly. Anyone is free to change their password at any time, which would render their precious pieces of paper worthless...actually, it turns them into a huge liability...because they have to protect those documents in perpetuity (or destroy them) in case any user has not changed a password.

      Anyway, even if I was sheeple enough to provide correct passwords, they would be changed the second I was at the con of a trusted terminal.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @05:38AM (#28400373)

    . . . well, the world now knows that there is a place called Bozeman, Montana.

    "Come visit Bozeman this summer for vactation . . ."

    "See the lovely lakes . . . "

    "Please leave your passwords at the door . . ."

    "What out for the moose . . ."

    • "See the lovely lakes . . . "

      You forgot the wonderful telephone system.

    • by RemusX2 (726167)
      Oddly enough I have lived here in Bozeman for 4 years now and this is the first I've heard of this stuff.
    • . . . well, the world now knows that there is a place called Bozeman, Montana.

      "Come visit Bozeman this summer for vactation . . ."

      "See the lovely lakes . . . "

      "Please leave your passwords at the door . . ."

      "Don't forget to say 'What up?' to the moose . . ."

      There, fixed that for ya.

  • I gave them all my passwords, but each had at least one character that was unprintable, unpronounceable and ambiguous when written down.

  • Change Password (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rick Richardson (87058) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @05:43AM (#28400411) Homepage

    1. Fill out form, including password.
    2. Send it in
    3. Change password

    Sheesh.

    • Re:Change Password (Score:5, Insightful)

      by selven (1556643) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @05:48AM (#28400431)
      Or do the same without the hassle of changing your password by just lying. It's not like they'll subpoena records just to see if your password actually changed (and if it did, why did you fail to notify them?)
      • by ls671 (1122017) *

        Did they state in the form that you had to notify them of password changes ?

        I they didn't, they couldn't hold anything against you. Password changes are a standard procedure in most secured systems so they couldn't assume that you add any wrong intentions...

        This whole story sounds plain silly anyway ;-))

      • by Chelloveck (14643)

        Or just write "none" where it asks for accounts. I don't have any accounts on social networking or other sites. Hell, I don't even have a Slashdot account. You can all testify to that, right?

      • I don't have an account on any of those sites.

        I don't use "Not Q. Real" for name on employment applications. I don't use my real name online. Completely different people, any similarity is a coincidence.
      • Too sissy. STAND UP TO JERKS/BULLIES!

        1. I not want to give that information as a condition of employment.
        2. I don't want them to even think it's ok to ask for such things.

      • by Macgrrl (762836)

        The passwords are only slightly more of an issue that the usernames - even without the passwords, they have stipped these potenial employees of their ability to anonymously post their opinions.

        You might be able to change your password at the drop of a hat, but how do you migrate your online persona from one id to another without shedding anyone you want to retain as a social link, without bringing along the corporate snoops you where moving to avoid.

    • 1. Fill out form, including password.
      2. Send it in
      3. Change password

      Sheesh.

      Or you could stop shaving your pussy, tell them "None of your goddamn business", and use all means at your disposal to refuse and oppose such a request. If the people in power don't get opposed, then they will just continue to ask for more.

      You would think Americans, from a country borne of revolution, would be less inclined to just say "YES" to everything an elected official (or worse a non-elected career bureaucrat) dreams up.

      • Here's the thing - they are employed as part of a civil contract, accountable for their actions - TO The people they are contracted with!

        They work for us, not the other way around.

        As citizens we've gotten complacent, and allowed the thinking to shift, such that we now consider "Government" as our leaders/bosses/Masters. I, for one, object to such a world view. Anytime I hear of a Government office trying to pull a stunt like this, I'm not surprised, but I'm also not apathetic, or passive.

        None of us should b

  • by golodh (893453) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @05:46AM (#28400423)
    Let's hear it for management. Whilst much of "management" is honest (and necessary) work, the scope for idiocy is greater than anywhere else. And that's because much of management involves the wielding of power and authority. Challenging a management decision is never seen as an exercise in objective criticism, but always as a power struggle, and treated as such.

    Whenever a management decisions will be visible to those who are not subject to the decision-maker's authority, "management" is often seen to drastically scale back the scope of what it first mandated as necessary, instated as "policy", and enforced. The downside is that climbdowns are rarely the result of a realization of "Oops ... what we did was really stupid, so lets not do it anymore", but mostly "Oops ... we're getting bad publicity on this one ... time to do some managerial damage control". Stupidity remains unchallenged (unless it can be used by a manager to discredit a rival).

    This example is also a salutary lesson for those who thought that Dilbert stories are all based in an imaginary world. As Scott Adams said: many of his examples come from real-life occurrences that he either witnessed himself or were emailed to him.

  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @05:50AM (#28400445)

    ... citing a worldwide backlash... ceased the practice of requesting that candidates selected for positions under a provisional job offer to provide their usernames or passwords for candidates' internet sites

    The common sense question would be why hasn't the city Manager and his accomplices been fired without severance because of this severe incompetence and lack of judgment. Reacting to a reaction is the worse kind of Management. These people should show some Leadership and resign from their positions without asking for severance pay or Letters of Reference.

  • about this, and decided I would leave a comment. A small-print note on the page said that registration was required to leave a comment. However, there was no login or register link anywwhere that I found on the page. So I filled out a comment anyway, and I got a popup window asking for my information. I filled out my information, and clicked submit, and... nothing.

    My comment did not appear on the page, so I tried again to see if there was some kind of link to login, and I got some strange dropdown asking
    • by Brandano (1192819)

      Now however they know your personal details, and your opinion. No need to get your facebook account info, they already have all the info they were after :)

  • I was going to read the feature article, but I think the site is suffering from the legendary Slashdot effect, either that, or the link is broken...
  • A reaction taken from the article;

    "Note to self, don't apply in Bozeman for a city job," one person wrote.

    which is scary, because everyone knows that there will likely be at least one candidate who decides to apply for a job with the public service, which means the public service is going to get the cream of the intellectually dull and the morally bankrupt. They claim (as many other employers do) that it is important to hire based on a person's moral character. If these managers were not liars and hypocrites then they would insist that people prove that they are marijuana user

  • That was fast (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Saturday June 20, 2009 @06:31AM (#28400617) Homepage Journal
    The story broke on June 17 and by the 20th they had smartened up.
  • 90 minutes? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lgftsa (617184) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @06:34AM (#28400631)

    Seriously people, pull your fingers out.

    Then again, it could have been a 1 minute vote and then 89 minutes of pin-the-blame on whoever's not there.

  • At the core it really comes down to wanting an excuse to justify spending half the day on the net looking at facebook etc. Also HR is very much seasonal work where there is really nothing to do most of the time but you need enough people to cover the busy periods, so we end up with riduculous scope creep with busy work invented so that HR people can justify their existence when things are not busy. In the places where they have facebook details they are probably spending a lot of time looking at current e
    • You really have no clue what HR does, do you?

      If my office, HR not only handles hiring and firing, but also payroll, workers compensation, benefits administration, discipline issues, coordinating annual and periodic reviews, reviewing and recording time off requests, dealing with employee complaints (e.g., too much perfume, bad body odor, breakroom behavior), facilitating employee-manager conflict resolution, revising and communicating company policy, investigating allegations of innapropriate behavior (
      • by dbIII (701233)

        You really have no clue what HR does

        No, I have a very clear idea of what they are supposed to do where I am and what they actually do, but it appears you have a very different definition of HR if they do all of that described above.
        Where I am payroll and superannuation is handled by people more competant in that role (accounts), discipling and reviews are handled by management (if HR do it that is a sign of weak or incompetant management so get out now), workplace health and safety is handled by those appo

        • From your description, I'd guess that you are working for a large employer with a very specific division of labor. That's not the only workplace environment out there--there are many, many businesses where HR folks wear many hats.
          • by dbIII (701233)
            I probably should have said "It's the usual specialised HR rubbish in large disfunctional organisations" but didn't think. Here if somebody wears the HR hat as one of many they take the name of another hat.
  • Kukulski apologized for the negative impact the issue has generated from news organizations and blogs around the world.' I didn't have any doubt this would be immediately squashed. Now I'm just curious as to how many personal accounts they actually went through!"

    Certainly, no one can mistakenly attribute that thought to Kukulski instead of the submitter!

    A simple "mcmoodle further contributes:...." would be too much effort though.
    • by mcmoodle (1560711)

      Kukulski apologized for the negative impact the issue has generated from news organizations and blogs around the world.' I didn't have any doubt this would be immediately squashed. Now I'm just curious as to how many personal accounts they actually went through!" Certainly, no one can mistakenly attribute that thought to Kukulski instead of the submitter! A simple "mcmoodle further contributes:...." would be too much effort though.

      You know, it originally was formatted that way. It said "The article continues:" and that part was axed. Editors!

  • Not surprising (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Saturday June 20, 2009 @06:52AM (#28400683)

    In most of the places I have worked, Human Resources is stocked via lateral transfer from other areas. They're the deadwood that can't be easily be fired, but must be moved out for the good of the department. I'm entirely unsurprised that some HR drone came up with this idea. Unfortunately, they're still the first people job applicants usually encounter.

    • I was privileged to work for years with a really good HR guy. While he was in charge, no strikes, no industrial action, low staff turnover, and the quiet word in our community (this being politically incorrect years ago) was that gay people would never be subject to embarrassing questions if they applied for jobs. When he retired to grow fruit and win all the golf club trophies till they asked him to stop, he was replaced by a typical corporate drone who within six months had managed to lose two expensive w
  • by Jawn98685 (687784) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @06:58AM (#28400705)
    At least the Bozeman city officials had some idea about "how them internets work". When their bad judgement was pointed out to them, they took the right path instead of digging in their heels and making complete asses [centos.org] of themselves
  • by yoshi_mon (172895) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @08:55AM (#28401103)

    It would have been one thing had they just requested applicants list all of their social networking sites. And even listed their usernames with each site so that they would know who they were on those sites since most people don't use their real names as their logins. Clearly my real name is not yoshi_mon.

    It still would have been a very invasive and ethically dubious practice but not too surprising for a 'red state'.

    But to then ask for peoples passwords? That is where the whole thing gets surreal. Why the hell do you need access to the accounts? I've yet to see any real explanation for that part of this nonsense. Not that there really could be a good explanation for it but I'd really like to see what kind of twisted rational was given.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Calydor (739835)
      Off the top of my head, I'd say it's to make sure they get to see ALL friends-locked posts.
    • Ever catch your kid in the cookie jar? Or maybe smoking behind the school? Surprisingly, their reaction is pretty much the same -- "Sorry, didn't know it was bad...won't do it again, promise!"

      Same thing here. Oh, and incidentally, something that hasn't been raised yet for some unknown reason, is this:

      How many of the top-level or already-employed people had their credentials listed on some form in some filing cabinet? Do you think the mayor had their social life vetted?

      Highly doubtful.

      So if this IS the c

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think the bigger question beyond the job application. I think this should spur an investigation into HR's and management's practice over at good old Bozeman. How many present employees at this place, have been forced to turn over passwords and other personal information and what was the scope information. Who else has been threatened with job loss, or loss of promotions and other intimidation. I would think if they treat prospects like this, then what about the poor souls already employed there.

    When no on

  • Wait... Bozeman, Montana?

    suddenoutbreakofwarpdrive
  • Are they still asking for a list of each applicant's personal websites? It seems to me there is no legitimate reason to force disclosure of such information. It's one thing if a background check produces a list of an applicant's public websites on its own, but to force disclosure of an applicant's websites as part of a job application still strikes me as very much an unwarranted intrusion into the applicant's personal affairs.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

Working...