Oregon bill bans administrators from snooping in students’ social media

The Oregon Legislature passed legislation earlier this month that would prevent public and private universities from gaining access to students’ social media accounts.

The bill, Oregon Senate Bill (S.B.) 344, simply bans administrators from taking passwords to students’ accounts through any means of coercion.

“A public or private educational institution may not: (a) Require, request or otherwise compel a student or prospective student to disclose or to provide access to a personal social media account through the student's or prospective student's user name and password, password or other means of authentication that provides access.”

The bill also institutes a minimum of $200 in damages for any individual who can prove their social media privacy has been violated by an administrator.

The legislation also ensures that students are not punished in their curricular or extracurricular activities for refusing to disclose passwords or other information related to their personal social media accounts.

The bill, which received co-sponsorship from two Republicans and two Democrats, passed the Senate on April 22, and the House on Jun 3.

Governor John Kitzhaber is expected to sign this legislation later this month.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ginny Burdick (D-18 Portland), a co-sponsor of S.B. 344, told Campus Reform she believes the legislation will lead to fewer privacy abuses on campus.

“This started out as an employer bill and then we realized there was a problem in higher education as well, you know with applicants being asked to provide access to their Facebook pages and sometimes even their passwords, and that’s not an appropriate use of social media,” said Burdick.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @TimPDion

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