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US city ends FaceSpaceGooHoo log-in grab

Bozeman bows

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After a virtual avalanche of news coverage, the City of Bozeman, Montana has decided it will no longer ask job applicants for their FaceSpaceGooHoo log-ins.

As we explained last week, the mid-sized American burg was requiring City job seekers to surrender usernames and passwords for all "social networking" sites they used, including everything from Facebook and MySpace to Yahoo! and Google. But as reported by a local TV news station on Friday, the City has dropped the requirement.

"Effective at noon today, the City of Bozeman permanently ceased the practice of requesting that candidates selected for positions under a provisional job offer to provide their user names or passwords for candidates Internet sites," City of Bozeman city manager Chris Kukulski said.

The original story about the log-in grab aired on the same news station Wednesday evening. And by Thursday, the City was flooded with email complaints, as stories appeared from the Associated Press and countless online news outlets. Apparently, City lawyer Greg Sullivan was fielding a complaint a minute. Then, on Friday morning, during a ninety-minute staff meeting, City officials decided the requirement "exceeded that which is acceptable to our community."

Kukulski said that the City only requested the usernames and passwords after applicants had conditionally accepted a job, and he apologized for the uproar over the issue.

He also said that Bozeman has suspended the practice of viewing online information that sits behind the collected passwords and that the log-in info will remain the confidential property of the City.

"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, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc.," read a waiver form that allowed the City to investigate an applicant's "background, references, character, past employment, education, credit history, criminal or police records."

The form then asked for usernames and passwords.

Facebook told us on Thursday it would be contacting the City about the requirement, calling it a breach of privacy. Which it is. ®

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