Collins’ student privacy protections become law

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) applauded the governor’s signing of a measure designed to protect the privacy of students who use social media. House Bill 64, which takes effect on January 1, prohibits colleges and universities from requesting students’ social networking passwords or requiring students to give their schools access to their accounts except in extraordinary cases. It also allows primary and secondary schools to demand access only if they have reason to believe a social networking account contains evidence of violations of law or school rules.

“The prevalence of social media demands that government be proactive in establishing reasonable privacy protections for students, employees and job applicants,” Collins said. “I believe Illinois has taken great strides in the last year toward striking an effective balance concerning online privacy.”

Colleges and universities would still be able to require a student to furnish a password if they suspect a social media account contains evidence that a school rule has been violated. Elementary, middle and high schools must notify students and parents of their social media policies and the circumstances under which students may be required to give access to password-protected information.

Last year, Collins co-sponsored a law prohibiting employers from requiring employees or prospective hires to reveal their social media passwords as a condition of employment.