Supreme Court Signals It Will Protect Students’ Social Media Privacy Rights

The Supreme Court ruled today that the Fourth Amendment still matters in the Social Media Age. In U.S. v. Jones, the court voted 9-0 that a warrant was required to place a GPS tracker onto a car.

This case has wide ranging ramifications in the Social Media Age. If the installation of a GPS tracking device onto a car constitutes a search then the required installation of social media monitoring software onto a student’s personal electronic device by a state school also constitutes a search. In addition, the requirement by public schools that their students provide them access to all of their personal electronic content is also a search.

As I have stated over and over again, schools must be very careful when trying to regulate or access a student’s personal electronic content. Requiring students to Facebook Friend school administrators, and/or download social media monitoring software onto personal electronic devices and/or requiring students to turn over their social media user names and passwords may create major legal liabilities for academic institutions. Last week, the Supreme Court let stand a couple cases that protected student social media free speech and now this week the court unanimously ruled that there still is an expectation of privacy in the Social Media Age.

As I previously stated on January 18, 2012,

“Unlike China that has a Microblog Identification Program that requires its citizens to register their online user names so the government may track their online posts, the United States strongly believes in freedom of speech. Therefore, schools must be careful when trying to regulate student social media speech.

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