The trend among U.S. states when it comes to passwords for social networks and email accounts has been to protect them from employers, potential employers and school administrators, but an Illinois law that took effect Jan. 1 bucked that trend.
CNET reported that Public Act 098-0801 is aimed at preventing cyberbullying, but St. Louis Fox affiliate KTVI reported that parents were concerned about the part of the law that grants access to students’ social media passwords, and Motherboard shared part of a letter sent to parents by school authorities:
School authorities may require a student or his or her parent/guardian to provide a password or other related account information in order to gain access to his/her account or profile on a social networking website if school authorities have reasonable cause to believe that a student’s account on a social networking site contains evidence that a student has violated a school disciplinary rule or procedure.
Even more alarming, according to CNET: The law is not restricted to only activity that occurs on school premises or on school computers or other devices, meaning that passwords can be requested during investigations of posts by students at any time and from any location. The related portion of Public Act 098-0801 reads:
No student shall be subjected to bullying … through the transmission of information from a computer that is accessed at a non-school-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.
Readers: Should school authorities in Illinois (or anywhere else, for that matter) be permitted to demand students’ social media and email passwords?
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