Cough up your social media password or go to jail

gotojail
There are times when laws go well beyond rational thought. This week I read about one such law that has me rather put out is one from the legislature in Illinois. It isn't the law itself that has me upset rather it is the interpretation that at least one school board thought was acceptable. They thought that it would be a good idea to send home a letter stating that they would require students to surrender their social media account passwords on demand in an investigation.Um, nuts to that! To be clear this is to be done if there is "reasonable cause” which, of course, is not clearly defined.
 
The new law is meant to be a vehicle to tackle cyberbullying. Do not get me wrong for a second. Cyberbullying is a real problem. This is made even worse when the bully in question is the school system. The letter home to parents from the Triad Community School invoked State law as their rationale to demand passwords from students in the course of an investigation. However this is a complete fallacy. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions then this should be good for a couple of miles of pavement. 
 
 
"If your child has an account on a social networking website, e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, ask.fm, etc., please be aware that State law requires school authorities to notify you that your child may be asked to provide his or her password for these accounts to school officials in certain circumstances," the letter says.
 
I actually read the law, and there is absolutely zero mention of having students surrender their passwords. So, that part of their letter was a crock. 
 
From fox2now
 
This week some school districts sent home letters to notify parents and students about the new rules. ” To get into a social networking site and it could be at a school or at home. That we would be able to get that password and get onto their account,” said Leigh Lewis Triad Community Unity School District Superintendent.
 
Some parents who received the notice says the new law raises some concerns about privacy. “It’s one thing for me to take my child’s social media account and open it up, or for the teacher to look or even a child to pull up their social media account, but to have to hand over your password and personal information is not acceptable to me , said Sara Bozarth.
This is a school board running rough shod over their students. Students providing the password to something that is not school related is not only bad practice it is a massive overstep and misinterpretation of the law on the part of the this school board. This is a plain and simple invasion of privacy. The Triad school board has overstepped their authority. This law went into effect on January 1st, 2015.
 
I sincerely hope that students of Triad Community steadfastly refuse if asked to give up their passwords. Trust me, if just one kid gets arrested over this and this will be front page news globally. That will sort out this nonsense in a hurry.
 

(Image used under CC from kenteegardin)

To comment on this article and other CSO content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter stream.
Insider: Hacking the elections: myths and realities
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.