New law requires cyber bullies to give passwords


Ana Uribe

Students are now required by law to surrender their social media passwords if suspected of cyberbullying.

In the past, schools were only capable of handling bullying cases that occurred on school grounds. However, this year the school legislator gave schools jurisdiction to handle bullying cases everywhere.

School officials are now permitted to gain access to students’ social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter, when there is a reasonable amount of suspicion of involvement in bullying. Parents concerned with bullying believe that this is a reasonable law that will help battle cyber bullying, while others firmly see the new law as an unconstitional   invasion of privacy.    Illinois school districts and universities have sent out letters to inform parents and students of the new law that was approved by governor Bruce Rauner this past August. A common misconception is that schools are asking students for their Facebook password. Nonetheless, these demands are only enforced when a school has to investigate a case of cyberbullying. According to Fox2now, the law has started an uproar in people who strongly disagree with Illinois legislatures.

The main argument defensive parents and students present is that this new legislation is an invasion of privacy

They worry that, with this new power, school districts and universities will have the ability to discover personal information, such as intimate relationship details, family situations and health–related issues.

“[The new bill] seems very invasive, schools jumped to an unreasonable solution when they already had enough information to find out if someone was being bullied,” junior Jonathon Crummy said. “The whole point of having evidence is to find cyberbullying, not ruin privacy.”

Those who agree with the jurisdiction of the law believe that, under particular circumstances, school officials should be allowed to investigate reports of cyberbullying in order to protect students. Cyberbullying has become a universal issue in schools across America, and many individuals believe that it should not be tolerated. Zero tolerance towards cyberbullying is the main message of the newly passed legislation.

Throughout the school year, deans at BG have handled bullying cases by taking efficent action with their students. This includes talking to the victim, the bully and perhaps parents. In the student handbook, the school is allowed to request a password from a student or parent if there is evidence suggesting a school disciplinary rule is violated.

The only difference about the new legislation is that complaints can now extend to situations outside of school. Dean Stephen Kolodziej believes that requesting a password can be justified in a case outside of school, primarily the internet when someone is at risk.

“I believe anytime the health or safety of an individual is in question, it [the password] should be given up,” Kolodziej said.

Schools across the state are given the option to enforce this new law or opt out. While the new legislation may be shrouded controversy, the intention is simple: to stop bullying from occuring off school property.