Background Investigations

The Future of Security Clearance Investigations?

A CBS News article looks at what is required if you want to apply for a job with the City of Bozeman, Montana.

If you want the job you will need to hand over your usernames and passwords for “…any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo,, MySpace, etc.”

“I think its indefensibly invasive and likely illegal as a violation of the First Amendment rights of job applicants,” said Kevin Bankston, an EFF attorney. “I don’t think the government can condition your application for employment on your giving up your First Amendment rights and your Fourth Amendment rights,” Bankston said.

However, some social networking sites flatly prohibit disclosure of passwords.  Facebook’s terms of service, say: “You will not share your password (or) let anyone else access your account.”

Update: City of Bozeman has decided it will no longer ask job applicants for social networking user names and passwords following a worldwide outrage to the hiring policy.

Comment Archive

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    What are these people thinking? This must be the most agregious violation of rights I’ve seen in a while. Do they not understand the Constitution? I am an Investigator and I would refuse that request even though I have nothing to hide. Now, they have the right to ask for consent, but to demand as a matter of employment is another story. Our society has somewhere along the way has lost sight of what protections we have been given by our founding fathers.

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    I agree with BW… what a crazy crazy request to make!!!!!!!!! Alright, I’m a security person and have been working clearances for awhile, but I still advocate for privacy and our individual rights. No way on earth would I supply that information, esspecially for a CITY job.

    If my integrity were to come into question I woudl gladly offer access up for someone to read through my account(s) if they had a pertinent reason to believe the answer would be in those account(s), while I watched over their shoulder, but what gives them the right to ask or require it be handed over????

    Terribly presumptious of them I believe. I’m outraged that someone even suggested it and I dont even have a facebook account, only web based email.

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    Amazing huh. I was a Criminal Investigator for 20 years and I would have never attempted such a thing. Although I always wanted to solve a case, I would never have even thought of violating the 4th or possibly the 5th in this vase. I have no web-based accounts, nor do I know how to use them, but I would not entertain the request either way.

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    Did the pictures come from a 1950’s crime drama? We can help with the daunting task of filling out the difficult questiommaire–I can do that, where it says name, simply put your name there. Where have you lived the past 10 years–man that’s a tough one….etc… you get the point. Anyone who would pay a “Larger” retainer to fill in a form is nuts. Now, I can see a person paying for advice if you have complicated issues to address. Better to get expert opinion from a legitimate source before subjecting yourself to a denial.