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MADISON, Wis. - A measure passed by Illinois lawmakers gives schools access to students’ social media accounts – and some say that law goes way too far.
The law, titled ‘the Right to Privacy in the School Setting Act,’ allows school districts and universities to demand the passwords to their students’ social media accounts if they have reasonable cause to believe the student is violating school code both during and after class time. That violates the very privacy the law is named for, according to UW-Madison journalism professor Robert Drechsel.
"When you have authorized [schools] to require you to turn over your access to your own social media accounts, and presumably rummage through them until they find what they think is going to be evidence of some violation of some kind of code, I think that's a serious intrusion,” Drechsel says.
“I don’t think that's constitutional. To me, that seems like an overreach.”
The law was passed last year and aims to curb cyberbullying that may take place outside the classroom.
College students in Wisconsin said while they appreciate the effort, it may go too far.
“I could see how that could be a good way to prevent cyberbullying,” said UW-Madison senior Elliot Parens. “But what people do with their social media is entirely their own business, whether or not it is hurting somebody.”
“I would never, ever, give out my password out, because sometimes there’s sensitive information there, like credit cards or my phone number,” Parens added. “It crosses a boundary that I'm not comfortable with, and I can’t imagine too many students here would be comfortable with.”
“It’s understandable that schools want to get some kind of control over [cyberbullying] and use some kind of tools to address it, but this is a pretty blunt tool,” Drechsel said.
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