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Maryland Dept. of Corrections Requires Social Network Usernames/Passwords From New Hires

February 23, 2011

By Gilbert Falso :: 5:49 AM

In June of 2009, the city of Bozeman, Montana was in the news for requiring people who applied for civil service jobs with the city to hand over their social networking usernames and passwords, so that hiring managers could log in and look at their accounts.  After much public ridicule and bad press, the city removed this requirement, and tried to pass the whole idea off as a mistake or misunderstanding.

History is now repeating itself in Maryland.

The ACLU has taken on the case of a Maryland man who applied for a job with the Maryland Department of Corrections, after he had taken a brief leave of absence. As a part of his interview process, he was asked to reveal his Facebook username and password.

The Maryland Department of Corrections is now requiring all account information, including passwords, as a part of their background check screening process. The man re-applying for his job was told not to change his password for a few months.

The ACLU has sent a letter to the Corrections Department calling the policy “a frightening and illegal invasion of privacy,” as well as a clear violation of the Stored Communications Act. The ACLU demanded that the department rescind the policy.

Maryland Corrections officials have not yet responded to the ACLU’s letter, and it is likely that the organization will take the department to court over the matter.

View the ACLU letter here, as a PDF.

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