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Illinois Schools to Parents: Hand Over Your Cyberbully Kid’s Facebook Password

Illinois Schools to Parents: Hand Over Your Cyberbully Kid’s Facebook Password
[Photo: Flickr user Laura Lewis]

Students in Illinois will have to hand over their social media passwords if they’re suspected of cyberbullying or breaking school rules, according to one school district’s interpretation of a new law that went into effect on January 1.

In a letter sent to parents in the Triad Community Unit School District #2, located close to the Illinois-Missouri border near St. Louis, administrators noted, “School authorities may require a student or his or her parent/guardian to provide a password or other related account information in order to gain access to his/her account or profile on a social networking website if school authorities have reasonable cause to believe that a student’s account on a social networking website contains evidence that a student has violated a school disciplinary rule or procedure.” Students can be asked for their social media passwords even if the violation under investigation takes place outside school hours.

Interestingly, the law on which the district is basing the new guidelines does not explicitly state that schools can demand students’ passwords—but rather states that schools must put in place a “process to investigate whether a reported act of bullying is within the permissible scope of the district’s or school’s jurisdiction.” Taken in combination with a 2014 law focused on governing social media, the district’s demand for passwords — which goes as far as to include Instagram and ask.fm — is apparently deemed an acceptable step.

Leigh Lewis, superintendent of the Triad district, tells Motherboard that a student refusing to cooperate with the laws could face criminal charges.

[via Motherboard]

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