Blown To Bits

Privacy, Montana Style

Thursday, June 18th, 2009 by Harry Lewis

The City of Bozeman, Montana is demanding that those applying for jobs supply passwords for their accounts with social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace, apparently so the City can check out what kind of acquaintances they have. What about the guarantee in the Montana constitution, which states, “the right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest”? Well, says the City’s attorney, that has to be balanced against the need “to make sure the people that we hire have the highest moral character and are a good fit for the City.” Montana is a funny state, not as individualistic as the mythology of Western America might make you think. Nor are Facebook and Myspace as private as their terminology may lead users to expect. Still, I’m guessing the city won’t keep this practice up long — for one thing, “good fit” tests are easily abused, and for another, these sites typically have a term of service such as (to quote Facebook’s) “You will not share your password, let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.”

One Response to “Privacy, Montana Style”

  1. Greg Morrisett Says:

    I’ve been thinking of starting a “noise” business. The idea is that you would pay me to add so much noise to your digital footprint, that no one could find the signal they were looking for. Have some embarrassing friends? We’d add a million links so they couldn’t find what they were looking for through simple browsing. Have an embarrassing photo show up? We’d flood the net with obviously photoshopped pictures of you (e.g., hanging out with Elvis) so you could claim the embarrassing one was also doctored.