Bill to shield students' social media lives from unjustified searches now law
A bill sponsored by State Rep. Mike Fortner (R-Dist. 49) that will require schools to have legitimate reasons to demand students' social media passwords was signed into law this week by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
The bill strikes a balance between student privacy and the legitimate needs of school districts to investigate issues such as bullying.
“There are still different ways to get that information," Fortner said. “What they can’t do is to ask for that password and go off and use that password on their own."
Brian Schwartz of the Illinois Association of Principals said the measure appears to be well-balanced.
“We think it’s a much better bill and a much better law and will allow building-level administrators to investigate violations of school district policy, but still allow (for) and protect kids' privacy,” Schwartz said.
Fortner’s measure defines and clarifies a reasonable-cause requirement, whereas earlier legislation was sometimes being cited as justification to implement blanket policies.
As such, a school would now need reasonable cause — such as a report by a victim, parent or witness — before entering students’ social media accounts to look for information.
“There should be a real event going on before demanding private passwords; otherwise, it’s just fishing without cause,” Fortner said.
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