New Assembly Bill 165 Violates the Rights of Student Privacy

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The report of a possible new bill has created conflict over the amount of privacy students should be receiving with their cell phones and other devices. The Assembly Bill 165, which was introduced by California Assemblymember Jim Cooper, states that if students are required to give up their phones, school administrators are permitted to search through any messages, social media accounts, and any other content present in the device without a search warrant. The question is raised on whether or not this bill would completely strip students of their natural rights because they would not have the right to keep certain aspects of their life private. Assembly Bill 165 would apply to county offices of education, school districts, charter schools, and any educational agency.

The bill has not yet been passed, but if passed, it would be around Sept. 2017. The California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (the CalECPA) is a law that went into effect in Jan. 2016 and contradicts the aspects of the Assembly Bill 165. The CalECPA opposes this bill considering they are against enforcements having access to devices without a warrant and this bill could end the protection it has been trying to provide for students for the past year. There are many factors that go with the decision to oppose this bill because of how students will be affected. This bill could be a big transition for students and how they approach school.

“It is a huge invasion of students’ privacy,” junior Celeste Garcia said. “This would cause students at CHS to constantly be clearing their devices because many students have their own personal reasons for what they decide to post. Students have the freedom of speech and the freedom to post what they want, and they also have the freedom to keep their posts private, so I do not see why that right should be taken from them.”

Cooper proposed this law to establish an easier system of discipline before the CalECPA placed restrictions on these searches. He believes this bill will provide safety for students mainly because of cyberbullying that often occurs amongst teenagers on social media sites. Many who agree this bill should be passed believe that the job of a school board administrator entails the obligation to look after students and their safety when their parents are not present.

Cooper proposed this law to establish an easier system of discipline before the CalECPA placed restrictions on these searches. He believes this bill will provide safety for students mainly because of cyberbullying that often occurs amongst teenagers on social media sites. Many who agree this bill should be passed believe that the job of a school board administrator entails the obligation to look after students and their safety when their parents are not present. Math and Theory of Knowledge (TOK) teacher Richard O’Neill agrees with the bill because it favors the saftey of students.

“I agree with the law reluctantly because the public safety interest that is reflected there which can cause bad things can happen.” O’Neill said. “Schools are not parents, but schools have to step into the role of the parents, so unfortunately I think the law should stand.”

It is a possibility the Assembly Bill 165 could be passed in the near future and would be a big advancement in schools. Overall, the bill is intended to prevent students from being harmed and put in threatening situations. The Assembly Bill 165 could minimize the privacy of students in a public setting and would push them to hide certain facets of their life from school officials. A great concern about how this bill could interfere with the students’ learning has become an issue for people who agree with this bill. If passed, the Assembly Bill 165 could pave the way for how future student’s view their privacy.

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