MT City Job Applicants Must Hand Over Social Network Passwords

June 19, 2009 ( - The city of Bozeman, Montana's background check policy states that to be considered for a job, applicants must provide log-in information and passwords for social network sites in which they participate. reports that an anonymous viewer emailed a news station recently to express concern over 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 form states, according to the news report. There are then three lines where applicants can list the Web sites, their user names and log-in information and their passwords.

City attorney Greg Sullivan told the news station the city takes privacy rights very seriously, but the request on the form balances those rights with the city’s need to ensure employees will protect the public trust. Responding to the concern that by providing the city with a Facebook user name and password, the city then has access to pages of the applicant’s friends, Sullivan said: “One thing that’s important for folks to understand about what we look for is none of the things that the federal constitution lists as protected things, we don’t use those. We’re not putting out this broad brush stroke of trying to find out all kinds of information about the person that we’re not able to use or shouldn’t use in the hiring process.”

He noted that no one has ever removed his or her name from consideration for a job due to the request.