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Ordinance proposed to protect online privacy for Missoulians

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Jun 23 2013 06:21:53 PM MDT
Updated On: Jun 23 2013 06:23:33 PM MDT
Ordinance proposed to protect online privacy for Missoulians
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Missoula City Council member Jason Wiener is pushing for an ordinance that would stop employers from asking workers, or potential new-hires, for passwords to their online accounts.

In most Montana cities employers can legally demand workers to hand over personal and private email and social network passwords but Wiener says he thinks this is violation of people's rights and he wants to law changed.

Now Wiener has submitted a draft ordinance that would protect Missoula residents from having to give personal information to employers. 

“You can imagine an employer asking for somebody's LinkedIn password in order to check whether you are looking for other work and that would be a total invasion of privacy,” said Wiener.  “But it is not against the law.”

Wiener tells NBC Montana the issue was brought to his attention by MontPIRG, The Montana Public Interest Research Group, a student-driven non-profit organization that helps students learn how to advocate for the public interest. 

Wiener says their interest in the issue stems from past problems in the city of Bozeman, whereas the City of Bozeman asked applicants to provide personal and private passwords.  Wiener tells us he believes this is a violation of people’s rights and he doesn’t want it happening in Missoula.

“I don't think that anyone would think it's realistic to require their employees bring their mail to the office to have it opened,” said Wiener.  “I think the concern that probably motivates this is how an employees’ social network, for instance, would be perceived as an employee.”

Wiener's online privacy ordinance will be reviewed this week and he hopes to get it on the council's table in July.

To read the proposed ordinance click here.