Canadian Political Party Demands Candidate's Social Media Logins To Run For Office

from the really? dept

We recently covered a legal battle in Maryland over demands of a government agency to a prospective employee to hand over his social media usernames and passwords for a background check. Apparently the NDP political party in British Columbia thinks that all candidates running for the leadership must also hand over their passwords to all social media accounts. This came out when one of the politicians, Nicholas Simons, refused to hand over that info. He pointed out that it clearly violated his privacy, as well as the privacy of all of his friends/family on Facebook. Eventually, the party backed down and said Simons didn't have to hand over the passwords, but the Privacy Commissioner in BC has already begun an investigation into whether or not the request itself violated the law. Whether or not it violated the law, it's difficult to think of why the party would think this is a reasonable idea.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 9:56am

    I can understand why the party would want to make sure it doesn't have someone with skeletons in his/her closet representing the party.

     

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  2.  
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    Brian B. (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:01am

    It got quite good exposure on the radio yesterday. Basically, as commentary states, it's not about allowing access to his account, it's the subsequent access to his friends that he didn't want to allow.

    Of course, the other side of the coin is that if you are going to use your Facebook account to represent a brand (the party), then they should have some control over the brand.

    The easy solution is for him to make a new Facebook account to use during the campaign that can be controlled by the party to make sure the message stays consistent.

     

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  3.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Re:

    EVERYONE has a bone or 2 somewhere.

     

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  4.  
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    V, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Do as I say, not as I do...

    Since handing over your password would violate most - if not all - of the social networks terms of service, and accessing their account would also be a ToS violation - I can't see how this can be legal.

    Or is this a "do as I say, not as I do" instance, where politicians ignore the law while prosecuting the woman in Megan's suicide for ToS violation.

    Nice to know they're not hiding the double standard any longer.

    Now that it's out in the open, we can openly revolt!

     

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  5.  
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    Jeff Scott, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:35am

    Re:

    Actually it wouldn't be that easy: Facebook does not allow duplicate accounts. Creating a secondary account or handing over the password to the real account both violate Facebook's ToS, and beyond that, I think it's despicable to ask for this kind of access. Why not also ask for the password to email accounts and voicemail? While we're at it, how about asking for the keys to the house? The privacy invasion this represents is astounding to me. Of course people have secrets, and if they don't give them up before running for office they can be brought down once elected just like everybody else, because if the party does not have access to EVERYTHING the person EVER created, access to some of it is constitutes both a serious violation AND a useless violation of their rights.

     

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  6.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:36am

    Re:

    Of course, the other side of the coin is that if you are going to use your Facebook account to represent a brand (the party), then they should have some control over the brand

    Why, though? By taking a public job, you are using yourself to represent the brand - but the brand does not take control of every aspect of your behaviour and communications. This is the classic fallacy of treating Facebook as somehow different and separate from everything else, when really it is just another way that people interact.

     

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  7.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re:

    Well... some people have led amazingly boring puritanical lives--giving them no skeletons in their closet! And zero real-world experience at anything. I, for one, would prefer a self-professed used-to-be scumbag who's turned away from the dark-side and is well aware of every loophole as well as every flavor of scam which can be pulled.

     

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  8.  
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    Jackie, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:58am

    Why not make person "friend" instead?

    What's the point of handing over passwords and access? If your party wants a look, make one of 'em a friend and there they are.

     

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  9.  
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    Paul Renault (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Yay for CDN Privacy Commissioners!

    All I really have to say.

    Is there such a thing as a public official whose job it is to protect the citizen's rights, in the 'States?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 11:16am

    You can ignore the facebook TOS because facebook does.

    Do you think Obama is the only person with the password to his account, along with hundreds of other public people that have their social identity managed by a marketing firm. Most of the these public figures don't even know the password to their own accounts, it is all managed by a third party.

     

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  11.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "some people have led amazingly boring puritanical lives"
    Yeah, they are the people that secretly smoke weed, have unusual sexual preferences, sneak vodka into their water bottles, have huge porn collections, etc. Everyone has something to hide, may not be illegal, but has something they dont want the community to know.

    "I, for one, would prefer a self-professed used-to-be scumbag"
    Eh, maybe. If the lure of easy money is too much for a "normal" politician what would a criminal do?

    Ahnold S is a perfect example. Had all the money one could ask for. Ran on not being able to be bought by special interests. Got in office and what happened? Yep, sold out.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re:

    People affiliate parties with their representatives. Both the parties and the individual politicians benefit (and sometimes get harmed) by this.

    If the party doesn't want this guy to be a party member or bear the party standard, they can tell him to take a hike.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 11:49am

    Re: Yay for CDN Privacy Commissioners!

    Sure. Police, judges, representatives, etc.

    Not all of them are very good at it.

     

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  14.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 11:49am

    Small Minds

    I am sure we will have personnel managers and other bean counters around for years who think that making people turn over their passwords for social networks is a good idea. There is also the case of people who just like to be nosy and snoop around in other people's business.

    This story or a minor variation on it will be with us for a while.

     

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  15.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    If the party doesn't want this guy to be a party member or bear the party standard, they can tell him to take a hike.

    Precisely. No need for his facebook password to do that.

     

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  16.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:14pm

    What do they hope to find

    I wonder what people expect to find on social networks when they ask for the ability to snoop through records.

    Fist, most people I know are somewhat discrete about what they post to social networks. Sure, there are cases where people brag about robbing a bank or doing a drug deal, but I think those types of people are probably telegraphing a bunch of other warning signs that there is a problem without any assistance from Facebook.

    Second, would the bean counter checking my Facebook status recognize a problem if they saw it? Sure, my bookie, my loan shark, and my drug dealer are all on my friends list. However, FB isn't an ideal environment for arranging drug deals and shady loans, and having friends who do illegal things is not a crime. Where is red flashing light that says there is a problem?

    Third, how much of what they find would be actionable or valid in a legal defense about why a person was rejected in the screening process? You might see some things that suggest some problems, but it's unlikely there is going to be enough to prove anything. If you look closely at anyone's social media persona you could probably find lots of things that suggest a problem, but finding actual proof of a problem would be pretty rare.


    Finally, having access to the account could backfire big time on the bean counter who demands the password. The law of unintended consequences is likely to kick in. For example, there are a lot of questions that someone being hired for a job is not allowed to ask because just asking the question might show a bias or intention to not hire someone based on some form of discrimination. If the reviewer runs across the answers to the questions they are not allowed to ask, then would the applicant have the right to sue based on discrimination?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Nope. some people really do lead amazingly boring puritanical lives. Original criticism of their being too naive to lead still applies.

     

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  18.  
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    Jesse (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 4:27pm

    I'm a little sad that I didn't get the credit for sending it in :( I always like that little shout out, it's the highlight of my day (sad, I know).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    btr1701, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 4:50pm

    Re: Re: Pages

    > Actually it wouldn't be that easy: Facebook
    > does not allow duplicate accounts.

    Sure they do. A friend of mine is a somewhat famous actress and she has both a personal account under a name people other than her friends and family don't recognize and her "official" page for all the fans to "like".

    Pretty common practice, actually. Shouldn't be too hard for a politician to do the same thing.

     

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  20.  
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    Brian White, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 6:44pm

    Facebook and politics.

    The NDP party has factions and they are having a leadership race.
    Many inside the party council faction wants Dix (another candidate) to win. Simons belongs to the faction which deposed the last party leader. Reasons to want his facebook passwords includes finding things to use against him, and getting access to who his real friends are. (Like a clients list from a salesman). They have also successfully stalled on giving him access the the party member list so Simons cannot make his case directly to people who can vote in the leadership contest because he does not know who who they are.
    So it is a dirty game and they are playing as close to the edge as they can.

     

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  21.  
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    btr1701, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 9:30am

    Re: Hacking

    > You can ignore the facebook TOS because facebook does.

    Unfortunately US Attorneys do not. They've been know to charge people with felony computer hacking for violating a web site's TOS.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Re:

    For ANYONE requesting to represent the country, this should be mandatory, not optional. Not only social media, but anything deemed important.

     

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  23.  
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    raja, May 21st, 2011 @ 11:22am

    it would be better for social parties and i am agree about this accont.............

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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