Category Archives: Technology–computers

More on hiring abuses

I have recently encountered actual job-application documents and websites that illustrate some of the hiring abuses that I denounced in this recent post.

After submitting an online application for a job at Texas A&M Univ. Agrilife Research, I was warned that

an “investigative consumer report” concerning my “character, . . ., general reputation, personal characteristics, police record, . . ., mode of living, and/or credit and indebtedness may be obtained in connection with your application for and/or continued employment . . .”

This threat to my privacy seeks information that is irrelevant to my ability to do the job and produce results for the employer.

Midland College of Midland, Texas, criminalizes job applicants and forces them to pay for the experience out of their own pockets! The last page of their application form (PDF) states that applicants . . .

. . . “will be required to submit a full and complete set of [their] fingerprints for analysis through the Texas Department of Public Safety AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System)” . . . and to “make an appointment with L1 Enrollment Services, submit a full and complete set of [their] fingerprints, request a copy be sent to the agency listed below, and pay a fee of $24.95 to the fingerprinting services company, L1 Enrollment Services.”

Essentially, anyone who wants to work at Midland College must pay a fee in order for their application to be considered.

The job application website of another public institution in Texas requires applicants to enter their Social Security and driver’s license numbers, potentially exposing confidential data for hackers and data thieves to steal. A recent cyber-attack on the University of Maryland, which exposed over 309,000 records of personal information, illustrates the vulnerability of campus information systems. Social Security numbers should be requested only for completing an IRS W-4 from, and driver’s licenses only for positions that require driving.


The Digital Divide–from the Other Side

Much of the discussion about the “digital divide,” the disparity in internet access between the rich and the poor, is framed in terms of availability of a high-speed connection through DSL or cable. However, internet access depends on hardware and software as much as it does on connection speed.

DSL and cable are not the only ways to connect to the internet. Unless you are planning to exchange large music and video files online, dialup works fine for the individual user. Dialup is more efficient than it has ever been, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it’s available to anyone who has a telephone line.

Your hardware and software affect your access to the internet as much as connection speed does. As new versions of HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Adobe Flash are implemented, new versions of web browsers are needed to render the websites that use these technologies. Unless you upgrade or replace your computer often, the latest version of your favorite web browser may not be available for your hardware or operating system.

I recently had to retire my turquiose-blue G3 iMac simply because I could no longer use the internet with it. Otherwise, it is an excellent machine loaded with useful software. I could afford a newer machine, a laptop, only because of the $600 tax rebate that I received in 2008. When I no longer can use the laptop on the internet, will I be able to afford a replacement?

Your ability to pay for a state-of-the-art computer determines your access to the internet as much as your connection speed does. Used computers and inexpensive tablets are available, but for how long will they be usable?