Is School Violating Privacy Rights in Demanding Facebook Password?

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Allen Sheaprd 8 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #76897

    Kim Schaefer
    Participant

    I am sure most everyone has heard about the cheerleader kicked off her squad in Mississippi by now for using profanity in a private Facebook email. Here is a link to the article: Abuse of Power: High School Admins Coerce Cheerleader for Facebook Password. How much power does a school district have? She should not be using profanity and cheerleading is an extracurricular activity. But, shouldn’t punishment for using profanity, if it wasn’t in the school setting, be left up to the parents?

    If this is true, then it bothers me that she was a minor and not only was her privacy violated without consulting her parents, but her information was distributed to other adults in the school district. It is clear that you shouldn’t put information in your public pages that you don’t want anyone to see, but should you have to be concerned about your private information?

  • #76917

    Allen Sheaprd
    Participant

    Kim,
    HI. I agree with you. Cheerleaders, like football players and swimmers represent their school but what they do on their own time should be up to the parents. Yes the school could inform the parents and the school could remove her from the team.

    However the use of passwords and such is a violation of privacy.

    As for the article they gave out too much information. In other youth activities we are not allowed to give out last names, locations, schools, times or areas of meetings, etc.

    Link to the original article: http://mashable.com/2009/07/29/cheerleader-lawsuit/

    With all our computers, cameras and laws may you have more privacy, freedom and security than our founding fathers could have enjoyed or imagined.

  • #76915

    Kim Schaefer
    Participant

    Hi Allen,
    It is kind of like some hybrid Orwellian society. It seems everything you do may be be recorded by someone – so watch out. But there is little likelihood that you will be “expunged” because who knows where all the information is, right. It’s not the government, it could be your next door neighboor…no I’m not paranoid…

    Good point about them reporting her last name. I am not sure why her parents would have allowed that. I certainly would not have.

  • #76913

    Brian Gryth
    Participant
  • #76911

    Allen Sheaprd
    Participant

    Brian,

    Hi. Thank you and good points. Court documents and being on the news would expose the girls last name.

    Profaity is not illegal? Brian other than DMV teaching traffic laws nither my school, college nor professional courses (IBM, ORACLE, etc) ever covered “the law.” If can elaborate on how off base or wrong the school was that would be helpful.

    Thanks for the Tortius Interference reference reference that was written in English. So much of the law is written in terms that are hard to understand. Wow, forcing information has been wrong since 1707 and 1793!

    I hope that just because it is a new technology the schools do not think they have new rights.

    Final word – stories of girls being stripped search for asprin or having their passwords taken make the news but it probably happens to guys as well. Its not that much easier nor fair.

  • #76909

    Brian Gryth
    Participant

    Sorry everyone, I deleted my comment inadvertently.

    Kim and Allen,

    I can’t view the court documents because of technical issues at the moment, but I am guessing that the girls name appears in the court filing as the plaintiff. All court documents are public records and thus the press can publish this information. In addition, the girl appeared on the local NBC news affiliate. So I am also guessing that her attorney wanted the press to expedite a settlement with the school district or the girl is no longer concerned with her privacy.

    This story is a sad example of people taking advantage of a young person who may have used inappropriate language. But last time I checked profanity, not matter how offense, was not illegal.

    Facebook should also use this case as make an example out of this school district and others who force Facebook user to reveal passwords by suing the school district et al for Tortious Interference on the grounds that forcing the girl to give her password to a third party caused the girl to breach the Facebook Terms of Service.

  • #76907

    Allen Sheaprd
    Participant

    Kim,

    Sadly you are right. What scares me is how companies can make and change rules more often than governments. It would be bad if this hurt how people connect or became more standard practice.

    What Orwell did not cover are the stories people can publish about others “last nights party where (fill in the blank) did something stupid with (fill in the blank) and was a real (fill in the blank) . Those stories, true or not, can hurt peoples relationships and jobs. Those stories I hope get “expunged”

    BTW – not everthing gets “expunged”. Five of us needed a background check. One guy had set off fire crackers on a naval base when he was 13. Only four of us moved on past that.

    Brian has a good explination about why her name and stuff are there.

    Thank you for the story and post. I hope she gets alot of support and the school sees the light. You have to give fair play and respect to get fair play and respect. “Its not the example of pwer, but the power of example” that people remeber.

    “It was a cold day in April as the clock struck 13” – “1984”

  • #76905

    Brian Gryth
    Participant

    Freedom of Speech for students is probably one of the more complex appear of 1st amendment law. (Actually all of Freedom of Speech is complex). If the girls assertion is correct that her post and other post were made outside of school, the girl has more rights than if they were made at school. Schools tend to have more power to take the right of students away when on School grounds or during school hours. So not to be a lawyer, but how much restriction can be placed on speech depends.

    The reported facts in this case are fragmented at best. But I am guessing that the school district has a story of why the password was taken or as they will say “requested”. Best I can tell is that the girl was being bully or harassed by another girl and the cheer coach had concerns. However, that does not justify taking the girls Facebook password.

    This story is another sad example of how children often get their right take away for their supposed on good. It is an interesting case and one I will start to monitor.

  • #76903

    Kim Schaefer
    Participant

    Thanks, Brian – interesting analysis.

  • #76901

    Allen Sheaprd
    Participant

    Brian,

    Hi. As a comparison – are students removed from school or athletics for cussing, wearing gang colors or using illegal drugs outside of school?

    I’m just comparing bad use of facebook with kids using cocaine, LSD, using guns illegaly, stealing, wearing gang colors, etc. Just because its new does not mean old laws no longer apply.

    Just a thought.

    Allen

  • #76899

    Stephen Peteritas
    Participant

    Plain a simple yes it’s a violation of privacy. Also they shouldn’t be allowed to kick her off the team for something that’s not illegal such as profanity. Man this story has been going on forever I remember I still worked in Mississippi in TV news when all this started a year ago.

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