HB 1200 as amended by the House would protect K-12 students regarding access to students’ social media accounts by educational institutions. However, the Senate amendment would only apply to post-secondary students. All individuals regardless of age have the same protections and rights as outlined in the Bill of Rights.
If the school must investigate a criminal matter, not a school discipline violation, it should be turned over to the police who could obtain a search warrant to access social media records. The school can investigate policy infractions, such as academic honesty questions, using public posts. The academic institution also has access to records that originate on school-owned computers or school email accounts.
In March 2014 a Minnesota student won a $70,000 settlement from an incident when school officials demanded her Facebook password. The American Civil Liberties Union defended her, arguing the school violated her right to free speech and privacy.
Unless HB 1200 is restored to the version passed by the House, K-12 students’ rights are at risk and local school districts could face similar lawsuits.
Please contact the entire NH senate, urging them to vote against the committee’s Ought to Pass as Amended (OTP/A) recommendation. Ask them to pass the House amendment instead.