Last week the California Senate passed a bill prohibiting colleges and universities from acquiring or demanding students’ social media account information, aiming to ensure that social privacy is upheld.
Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) authored Senate Bill 1349, which was approved last Tuesday 38-0, in response to reports of institutions asking students and employees for their Facebook and Twitter information, as his office reported the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) admitted to doing so.
Some UC coaches have asked student athletes to “friend” them on Facebook so the coaches could assess their online activity, said Steve Montiel to the Los Angeles Times last week, a spokesman for the university system.
That would be prohibited under Yee’s bill. The lawmaker said students often post personal information, including their religion and sexual orientation, on social networking sites and coaches or other college officials should not require the information.
Another bill in the California Assembly, which is still awaiting a Senate vote, would create similar protection for employees and job applicants.
“California is set to end this unacceptable invasion of personal privacy,” said Yee in a statement. “The practice of employers or colleges demanding social media passwords is entirely unnecessary and completely unrelated to someone’s performance or abilities.”
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal last week, student-athletes in many universities are required to give up their online privacy to coaches, who use a monitoring system that sends e-mail alerts to coaches and administrators whenever students use certain “flagged words,” such as “drugs” or “alcohol.”
The issue in question was whether or not implementing a monitoring software system is a constitutional issue, and under Yee’s bill it now is.
Gov. Jerry Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto the bill.
Other states – including Maryland, Delaware and Illinois – have passed similar legislation.
At CSU East Bay, according to Derek Aitken, the university’s director of government and community relations, social media monitoring has been a “non-issue.”
“CSUEB has never asked for a student’s login or password information, and there are no plans to do so,” said Aitken, adding he doesn’t think any CSUs have ever asked a student for their login information.
Adam Keigwin, Senator Yee’s spokesperson and chief of staff expressed to The Pioneer not only the necessity of the bill but also the important impact it will have om future and current higher education students.
“As a result of SB 1349, college applicants and students will have their privacy protected and they will not be forced to turn over any private information, so what they decide to share between their friends and family members is up to them, and that is the most important thing about this bill; now it is a choice.”
“It’s really about protecting individual rights as well and other aspects of your life your university or college has no business of knowing,” he said. “We want to be preventive of that happening.”
This entry was published in The Pioneer Online on Thursday, August 30th, 2012 at 11:41 am.