A law that went into effect at the start of 2015 will allow Illinois school districts to demand the social media passwords for students that break the rules or are suspected of cyberbullying. Motherboard received a copy of the letter sent to parents, which details the law:
"If your child has an account on a social networking website, e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, ask.fm, etc., please be aware that State law requires school authorities to notify you that your child may be asked to provide his or her password for these accounts to school officials in certain circumstances."
However, the law doesn't explicitly state that officials are allowed to demand the passwords: rather, that schools must have a "process to investigate whether a reported act of bullying is within the permissible scope of the district's or school's jurisdiction."
Parents would be notified before the the school asks for a students' password. Refusal to cooperate could (and we mean could) even lead to criminal charges being pressed. There's also concerns that how the law is being implemented could be unconstitutional. Talking to Motherboard, Kade Crockford, director of Massachusetts's American Civil Liberties Union, noted that there are already mechanisms to obtain Facebook data is cyberbullying is bad enough - through the police.