Sunday, February 22, 2004

I set out this morning to update and make consistent my passwords for the different online banking/financial services I use. No, you won't be able to guess my new password.

When I got to Citibank, there was a link on the password change page which read "User ID and Password Guidelines" and within that page there was a section titled "Citibank Vulgar Language Policy". I figured that might be fun to read.

By policy, Citibank will not allow me to have a user name or password containing language that:

• Is sexually explicit, vulgar or obscene.
• Is racially or ethnically offensive.
• Exploits a minor (any person under the age of 18).
• Defames, abuses or threatens physical harm or death to others or oneself.
• Represents violence.

"Determination of whether there has been a violation of the policy, and whether any action is warranted, is made at our sole discretion."

OK, the first category (sexually explicit, vulgar, obscene) is pretty easy to understand. Sam Jackson can't have "badmotherfucker" as his password. Although why they would restrict passwords - which are only useful if nobody else knows what they are - is a mystery to me.

They also can't be "racially or ethnically offensive", so no "mexicansarelazy" or "jewslovemoney" there.

Then things get a little tricky.

My user name and password can't "exploit a minor"? I'm not sure how language can exploit a minor. I guess "cometodaddyyousexylittlegirl" is an inappropriate user name or something.

I also can't defame, abuse or threaten physical harm or death to others or myself by use of my user name and password. I guess "johnedwardsisasocialist" is out, unless my user name would be protected by the defamation standards applied to public figures. But the part I like in this line is the inclusion of "oneself" in the prohibition. Under these terms, I can't use "ihatemyself" or "iamfat" as a user name/password. Citibank must care a lot about me as a customer if they work to prevent me from putting myself down.

And, finally, no representing violence. What does "represent violence", anyway? "bloodstainedsidewalk" does, I suppose. And "jackiechan" certainly does. How about
"itwasadarknightdowntownandasinglespentbulletcasinglayonthepavementglisteninginblood"?
Does artistic merit win me any favors with the Citibank User Name and Password Appropriateness Patrol?

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