This is just disturbing:
[A] suit was filed in Mississippi that alleges a school official—more specifically a teacher acting in her capacity as a cheerleading coach—demanded that members of her squad hand over their Facebook login information. According to the suit, the teacher used it to access a student’s account, which included a heated discussion of some of the cheerleading squad’s internal politics. That information was then shared widely among school administrators, which resulted in the student receiving various sanctions.
This is wrong on so many levels. I understand that many schools have “conduct policies” where students may be disciplined for activities that take place off school grounds and not on the school’s clock. For example, a kid can get kicked off the football team for posting to MySpace or Facebook a picture of himself smoking a joint. I don’t agree with those policies, but I can see where school administrators are coming from.
I can also understand a teacher looking through a student’s public profile on Facebook or MySpace for evidence of bad behavior. Again, I don’t agree with that, either. But public information is just that – public – and if teenage kids are stupid enough to post pictures of themselves smoking and drinking… well that’s their fault.
But I fail to see how a teacher demanding someone’s Facebook login information and rifling through that student’s personal correspondence is any different that the same teacher going to the student’s house and demanding to read their diary or their personal mail. And isn’t logging in as someone else a violation of at least two federal laws (the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984 and the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2008)? And isn’t this a violation of Facebook’s “Terms of Service”? What gives the cheerleading coach – acting as a government official – the right to access private information stored on a private company’s computers? Would this be any different if the coach demanded access to the student’s online banking account to look for beer or cigarette purchases?
Read the whole post at Ars Technica and tell me what you think. Personally, I hope the court hits the school administrators upside the head with the ol’ “clue by four”… but that’s just me.