Thursday, June 13, 2013

Oregon Bans Schools From Engaging Social Media Monitoring Firms To Track Students and Coaches

Oregon has officially joined Delaware, California, New Jersey, Michigan, Arkansas, Utah, and New Mexico in protecting their schools, school employees, students, and taxpayers from the costs and legal liability issues associated with social media monitoring students and employees.  Under Oregon SB 344:

"A public or private educational institution may not: (a) Require, request, suggest or cause a student or prospective student to disclose or to provide access through the student's or prospective student's user name or password to a personal social media account. (b) Compel a student or prospective student, as a condition of participation in curricular or extracurricular activities or of acceptance, to add a coach, teacher, administrator or other employee or volunteer of the educational institution to the student's or prospective student's list of contacts associated with a social media website. (c) Take, or threaten to take, any action to discharge, discipline, prohibit from participation in curricular or extracurricular activities or otherwise penalize a student or potential student for refusal to disclose the information or take actions specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subsection."

The enactment of SB 344 will greatly benefit schools, school employees, students, and taxpayers because collectively public and private educational institutions in Oregon may save millions of dollars in potential compliance costs and tens or hundreds of  millions of dollars in potential costs associated with social media related lawsuits.  SB 344 along with similar laws around the country have banned schools from being able to utilize the social media monitoring services of UDiligence, Varsity Monitor, Fieldhouse Media, and Jump Forward to track the personal social media accounts of students and school employees.

It appears that the only way for the above mentioned social media monitoring services to properly track students or school employees is if a student or employee either downloads an application onto his personal digital account(s), or provides a username(s) and/or password(s) to his personal account(s), or if a student authenticates his social media account(s).  These services may claim that all they need to properly work is a student's name or alias to search for a public social media account.  However, performing an Internet search and guessing that an account belongs to a particular student just because it is on the Internet may put you in the same position as one of the people portrayed in this hilarious State Farm Commercial.  According to CNN, as of last August, Facebook may have at least 83 million fake accounts and according to PRWeek, Twitter may have as many as 20 million fake accounts.

At least 36 states have introduced social media privacy legislation along with Congress.  It may only be a matter time before every state bans schools from utilizing the social media monitoring services of the above mentioned companies.

Copyright 2013 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved. 

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