Students’ Social Media Privacy Rights

The House Education Committee made an additional attempt to protect K-12 and post-secondary (college) students’ social media privacy rights by amending SB 355 to the same language they proposed in HB 1200. SB 355 passed the House on May 14th on a voice vote. The Senate amended HB 1200 to only apply to college students and ultimately laid it on the table, effectively killing the bill, one week earlier. Therefore, SB 355 is the last opportunity to defend all students’ social media privacy rights in this legislative session.

The Senate did not concur with these changes, so there will be a Committee of Conference, a joint meeting with representatives from the Senate and the House tasked to find a mutually agreeable compromise, on Wed 5/28 at 10:30am in LOB 102. The following legislators are assigned to this CoC:
Senate: Boutin, Reagan, and Kelly
House: Grassie, Boehm, Gorman, and K Rogers

Anti-bullying proponents have a problem with SB 355 applying to elementary and high-school students. They argued that SB 355 as amended would inhibit a school’s ability to investigate bullying incidents.  This is an incorrect assumption because any criminal investigation would allow police to obtain a warrant to search all social media records. The school also retains the ability to search through public records, and anything sent through school-issued computers and accounts.

Please contact the legislators participating in this Committee of Conference, asking them to support SB 355 as amended by the House.

Senator Boutin                       
Senator Kelly                          
Senator Reagan                     
Representative Boehm          
Representative Gorman        
Representative Grassie                 (603)332-8562
Representative K Rogers    

Here are some suggested talking points to include.

  • Forcing a person to provide evidence against him/herself, is against Article 15 and Article 19 of the NH Constitution.
  • School districts could face lawsuits for violating students’ rights to free speech and privacy. This occurred in Minnesota when a middle-school student was forced to share her Facebook password. The student won a $70,000 settlement.
  • A school, private or public, by forcing a student to share their social media credentials, is forcing someone to violate a contract (terms of service agreement) and then by using those credentials, violating a contract themselves.