For the geographically challenged, or (in the cast of Coasties) purposefully obtuse and arrogant, Bozeman isn’t a new computer virus, or a demon summoned from the 77th layer of the Abyss by Bill Gates. It’s a city in Montana, actually one of the largest in the state. Montana is normally a champion for personal liberties, but in a bizarre turn of events the city of Bozeman is asking all applicants for city jobs to turn over not just those sites on the internet for which they have accounts, but also the user names and passwords that go along with them.

City attorney Greg Sullivan had this to say about the decision:

“So, we have positions ranging from fire and police, which require people of high integrity for those positions, all the way down to the lifeguards and the folks that work in city hall here. So we do those types of investigations to make sure the people that we hire have the highest moral character and are a good fit for the City,”

While one can’t fault him for his motives, it certainly is important for the city to have a good reputation and it is reasonable for them to want folks of good repute representing them, they’re going to frightening and drastic measures to do so. In essence asking applicants to turn over all shreds of privacy to the city, allowing people from the city to read their e-mail, private sections of facebook, and even access their bank accounts. Now maybe my situation has been unique, but I’ve never had a potential employer ask for permission to read my mail or tap my phone before hiring me. If they did, I’d tell them to take a hike. That kind of invasion of privacy is unheard of, and is unconscionable.

The worst thing is, I don’t know which I find more absurd and frightening, that a US city would ask this of potential employees, or the fact that so far not a single employee has withdrawn their application in protest when asked to tender their accounts and passwords.

-Angry Midwesterner


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