Fortner bill would bolster student privacy in social media
A bill recently introduced by Illinois state Rep. Mike Fortner (R-49) would add stronger privacy safeguards for students using social media.
House Bill 3527 would require students to release their private social media passwords to the schools upon request so long as the school notifies parents about the new policy and publishes it in the school's handbook.
A bill passed in 2014 created a policy to address cyberbullying. Embedded in H.B. 4207 was the definition of reasonable cause relating to social media. H.B. 3527 clarifies reasonable cause and offers situations schools would have to comply with to avoid violating a student's privacy.
“Without having a true definition of 'reasonable cause' and what falls within those parameters, it became apparently clear to us that there were no regulations stopping schools for asking for this information,” Fortner said.
Also, H.B. 3527 provides that a school does not have reasonable cause to request a student’s social networking password unless a victim or concerned party, such as a parent or guardian, files a complaint with the school, or a school employee has witnessed cyberbullying taking place.
“In 2014, a school decided the way to comply with the cyberbullying law would be to send notification to parents indicating school personnel could demand Facebook passwords from students if a case of cyberbullying existed," Fortner said. "The current law is not being interpreted correctly, this bill will clarify that only in the case of 'reasonable cause' can the school make such a request. There should be a real event going on before demanding private passwords; otherwise, it’s just fishing without cause.”