By Bob Katzen
The Senate 36-0, approved and sent to the House a bill designed to protect students and employees from being forced or bullied into providing schools and companies with information about and access to their social media accounts.
Provisions prohibit any school from requiring a student or applicant and an employee or applicant to disclose photographs, videos, a user name, password or other means of access to a personal social media account; allows an aggrieved student or applicant to bring a civil suit against the school for violating these new laws; permits the attorney general to investigate any violations by employers; and permit schools to disclose lawfully obtained information from a student’s personal social media account to law enforcement to protect against immediate danger of death or serious physical injury to a student or other individuals.
Supporters said that a growing number of employers and schools are demanding access to the social media account of students and employees and prospective students and employees. They argued this is an invasion of privacy that should not be allowed in the Bay State. They said demanding access to a social media account is the same as demanding offline access to a person’s diary, regular mail, photo albums and conversations the person has with family and friends – offline things that which would never be demanded by a school or employer.