Illinois Law Says Students Must Give Up Their Passwords
Motherboard (a Vice site) posted earlier this week, updated today, about a troubling law that is now in effect in Illinois where school officials can “ask” for students passwords for their social network accounts in cases where school officials decide that there is discipline to be taken that may involve something in a student’s social media accounts.
What it doesn’t appear to do is limit what is considered valid, other than the discretion of the school officials and their determination of what rules that have been broken are worthy of violating the rights of children. only that the account may contain “evidence that a student has violated a school disciplinary rule or procedure”
Now it’s worth noting that the supreme court of the United States has ruled that a person cannot be compelled to provide a password (they can compel you to touch your finger to your phone though) as that would be a violation of a person’s constitutional 5th amendment right against self-incrimination, but Illinois has decided that particular amendment doesn’t apply to children when it comes to their school officials’ desire to rifle through a “rule breaking” student’s social networking account for anything that they may find to justify their violating that right in the first place, all without involving law enforcement or the courts… Unless of course the student refuses to provide their password(s) that is.
To give this power to law enforcement would be one thing (they don’t need it as they already have the ability to obtain warrants for specific information) since they are trained investigators, not to mention law enforcement, but this should NOT be something that is broadly granted to teachers or school administrators.
This quote sums it up for me: “At Triad school district we take student privacy rights very seriously, but those rights must, at times, be balanced against the needs to maintain a safe school environment for all of our students and staff.” The same superintendent Lewis also stated that schools are in “the business of protecting kids.” Now no one can argue that people of any kind don’t have the right to feel safe, because they do, but a school’s job is to educate kids and not protect them, especially when it means controlling what they do outside of school, and possibly prosecuting them as a result of it.
It’s endemic of what’s going on in many cases right now (look at David Cameron’s comments for example), where individual rights are sacred and must be protected… Until they become inconvenient to officials; then come the shouts of “Security! Terror! Other Boogeymen!” in order to justify brushing those rights aside. And where patently illegal, legislation is passed to make it legal.
I remember when I was a kid and there was constant adult supervision at school, both in class and out on the schoolyard. Kids may have smart phones, but that doesn’t transform them into more powerful higher beings that require overreaching laws that give faculty members the ability to treat kids in ways that would even be unlawful in prison.
My fear is that once this type of inch is granted and accepted, how long will it be before it makes it’s way into the mile of other laws, and as a trendsetting nation, what happens in the US typically spreads to other nations. I sincerely hope that Canadian legislators have a squarer head on their collective shoulders and don’t follow suit.