updated 6/23/2009 4:33:27 PM ET 2009-06-23T20:33:27

The Bozeman City Commission has voted to eliminate a hiring policy that allowed the city to look at information found on social networking sites in considering job applications.

Officials voted Monday to end the practice, which city Commissioner Jeff Rupp called an "egregious violation of privacy."

"We have checks and balances that should be used, and I don't think they are," Rupp said. He also asked why it wasn't vetted by the legal and information technology departments before being added to city hiring manuals.

Applicants for city jobs were asked for usernames and passwords for Web sites and social networking sites, sparking an outcry from those who thought the policy went too far, according to a report last week from KBZK-TV. The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana questioned the legality of the policy.

The city on Friday suspended requests for passwords and on Monday the commission said the city would no longer review social networking sites when considering job applicants. Employers around the country also have struggled with hiring policies that involve the use of social networking sites in candidate searches.

City Manager Chris Kukulski and Human Resources Director Patty Berg apologized for the policy, which was put in place in early 2008.

"This was an honest mistake," Kukulski said. "Human resources, our police and fire departments were doing something they believed was consistent with our core values. I take full responsibility for this decision, and we will work hard to regain the trust and confidence of the city commission and our community."

City Commissioner Jeff Krauss also apologized, saying he was sorry "for wandering down a road that violated basic rights of our citizens and we will do all we can to restore that public trust."

Commissioners said they will be meeting with city staff for an update on hiring policies. They also told city administrators that other changes to the city's hiring policies must be approved by the commission.


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