This particular post reflects neither my interest in all things Australian or Indonesian. However, there are interesting parallels between things happening in Bozeman, Montana, and Australia and Indonesia as this post relates to privacy, rights, and civil liberties.
It seems that the city of Bozeman in their standard job application form is asking for prospective employees to divulge their passwords to myriad of sites and accounts that they may hold. This includes your standard Facebook and other social networking sites like MySpace, and it also includes sites such as Google, You Tube, and Yahoo as well.
Now, according to the city, the failure to provide these passwords is not going to draw a negative inference on your application and nor will it preclude you from the advertised position. The city intends to use your passwords as a means of verifying the information that you provided in your application. I wonder whatever happened to calling an applicant's referees?
I guess I would not be getting a job in Bozeman anytime soon if this policy is continued. As a matter of principle I would not be supplying my passwords to anyone. Most civil libertarians are up in arms that this is a clear invasion of one's right to privacy. However, this is also an issue that relates to identity theft. Just about everyone that requires you to have a password unequivocally states that under no circumstances should you give your password to others. This is generally to ensure that your identity cannot be stolen and used by others.
One of the rationale being proffered is that it is reasonable that if a person has a public profile that an employer has a right to check it out. I agree, if a prospective employee has a public profile listed somewhere then there is no reason why a prospective employer cannot go and check it out. I would have no problems with a prospective employer reading my Facebook profile or my blog. However, I would object to the idea that they would need my passwords to get into the inner sanctum of my Facebook account or blog. Those parts are not part of the public profile or the public record and as such access to them by a prospective employer is an unreasonable request.
The idea that an employer has this right to this level of access to the personal information that the divulging of these type of passwords provides begs the question, "would an employer be comfortable with a prospective employee having the same degree and level of access to company, corporate, and management information in order to make a decision about whether to apply to work for the company?"
Next we will be hearing that we have to supply this information in order that employers can make certain they are not employing terrorists or other "undesirables".
I guess my point is, once you start on this slippery slope of openness or transparency, where does it stop?