Schools must have a legitimate reason to demand students provide their social media passwords under a bill signed into law this week by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Chief sponsor Rep. Mike Fortner, R-West Chicago, said his bill — HB 3527 — strikes a balance between student privacy and school districts’ legitimate needs to investigate problems such as bullying.
“There are still different ways to get that information,” he said. “What they can’t do is to ask for that password and go off and use that password on their own,” he said.
Brian Schwartz of the Illinois Association of Principals said the measure appears 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,” he said.
Fortner’s measure defines and clarifies a reasonable-cause requirement, whereas earlier legislation was sometimes being cited as justification to implement blanket policies.
Under the new measure, a school would now need reasonable cause — such as report by a victim, parent or witness — before entering students’ social media spaces to look for information.
“There should be a real event going on before demanding private passwords, otherwise it’s just fishing without cause,” Fortner had said.
The new act takes effect immediately.