Kelley Hoskins reports:
A new Illinois law aimed at stopping cyberbullying, gives schools access to kids (sic) social media accounts. Some say the law goes too far.
Previously Illinois schools could take action against students if online bullying occurred, such as something posted on Twitter or Facebook during the school day.
However, with the new law that Illinois legislators approved, school districts and universities in Illinois can demand a student’s social media password. The new law states if a school has a reasonable cause to believe that a student’s account on a social network contains evidence that a student has violated a schools (sic) disciplinary rule of policy. Even if it’s posted after school hours.
Read more on FoxNews.
But color me puzzled, because if this news report refers to HB 4207 (Public Act 098-0801), I don’t see language in that bill that explicitly authorizes or requires schools to demand social media passwords for investigation of activities occurring outside of school. The bill states:
No student shall be subjected to bullying:
(1) during any school-sponsored education program or activity;
(2) while in school, on school property, on school buses or other school vehicles, at designated school bus stops waiting for the school bus, or at school-sponsored or school-sanctioned events or activities;
(3) through the transmission of information from a school computer, a school computer network, or other similar electronic school equipment or
(4) through the transmission of information from a computer that is accessed at a nonschool-related location, activity, function, or program or from the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased, or used by a school district or school if the bullying causes a substantial disruption to the educational process or orderly operation of a school. This item (4) applies only in cases in which a school administrator or teacher receives a report that bullying through this means has occurred and does not require a district or school to staff or monitor any nonschool-related activity, function, or program.
So have some districts or secondary institutions now decided that the requirement to have a cyberbullying policy that includes investigative procedures enables them to implement a policy allowing them to demand social media passwords, or am I missing something in the bill’s provisions? (UPDATE AND CORRECTION: Commenter Stephanie points us to another section of state law that permits schools to require passwords).
While the ACLU of Illinois endorsed another cyberbullying bill that passed last year, HB 5707, I do not see anything on their site about this law. I wonder if they will respond to this issues of schools demanding social media passwords to investigate off-campus activities or activities not involving school equipment or technology.