Rep. Scott & Rep. Carson & Sen. Bushweller
Reps. Brady, Schooley; Sen. Sokola
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
146th GENERAL ASSEMBLY
HOUSE BILL NO. 309
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION.
WHEREAS, social networking is illustrative of our new technologically advanced community;
WHEREAS, 75% of American online adults ages 18 to 24 and 56% of American online adults ages 25 to 34 have a profile on a social network site;
WHEREAS, personal uses of social networking applications by young Americans for maintaining community contacts and content sharing are currently more prevalent than professional uses;
WHEREAS, the current trend for young Americans toward using social networks as a primary vehicle for effecting positive social and political change establishes social networks as the new digital age “public square” for important discourse;
WHEREAS, permitting public and nonpublic institutions of higher learning to demand that students and applicants provide access to their social networking site profiles and accounts could substantially chill the important discourse occurring on social networking sites;
WHEREAS, internet users have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their social networking site communications and affairs;
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Chapter 94. Higher Education Privacy Act.
§ 9401. Short title.
This enactment may be known and cited as the “Higher Education Privacy Act.”
§ 9402. Definitions.
(1) “Academic institution” means a public or nonpublic institution of higher education or institution of postsecondary education.
(2) “Applicant” means a prospective student applying for admission into the subject academic institution.
(3) “Electronic communication device” means a cell telephone, personal digital assistant, electronic device with mobile data access, laptop computer, pager, broadband personal communication device, 2-way messaging device, electronic game, or portable computing device.
(4) “Social networking site” means an internet-based, personalized, privacy-protected website or application whether free or commercial that allows users to construct a private or semi-private profile site within a bounded system, create a list of other system users who are granted reciprocal access to the individual’s profile site, send and receive email, and share personal content, communications, and contacts.
(5) “Student” means a student which at all relevant times is admitted into the academic institution whether the student is, or is not, in good academic standing.
§ 9403. Public and nonpublic academic institution, prohibited acts.
(a) A public or nonpublic academic institution shall not request or require that a student or applicant disclose any password or other related account information in order to gain access to the student’s or applicant’s social networking site profile or account by way of an electronic communication device.
(b) A public or nonpublic academic institution shall not require or request that a student or applicant log onto a social networking site, email account, or any other internet site or application by way of an electronic communication device in the presence of an agent of the institution so as to provide the institution access.
(c) No public or nonpublic academic institution shall monitor or track a student’s or applicant’s personal electronic communication device by installation of software upon the device, or by remotely tracking the device by using intercept technology.
(d) No public or nonpublic academic institution shall request or require a student or applicant to add the employer or its representative to their personal social networking site profile or account.
(e) A public or nonpublic institution is prohibited from accessing a student’s or applicant’s social networking site profile or account indirectly through any other person who is a social networking contact of the student or applicant.
§ 9404. Public and nonpublic academic institution; wrongful dismissal or refusal to admit.
(a) No public or nonpublic academic institution may discipline, dismiss or otherwise penalize or threaten to discipline, dismiss or otherwise penalize a student for refusing to disclose any information specified in subsection (a) or (b) of § 9403. It shall also be unlawful for a public or nonpublic academic institution to fail or refuse to admit any applicant as a result of the applicant’s refusal to disclose any information specified in subsection (a) or (b) of § 9403.
Section 2. This provision of this Act shall be effective upon its enactment into law.
§ 9405. Health and Safety exceptions.
This Act shall not apply to investigations of suspected criminal activity performed by a public or nonpublic academic institution’s public safety department or police agency, or to an investigation, inquiry or determination conducted pursuant to an academic institution’s threat assessment policy or protocol.
Under current law there is no recognized right to privacy in a student’s or applicant’s social networking site passwords and account information. This Bill makes it unlawful for a public or nonpublic academic institution to mandate that a student or applicant disclose password or account information granting the academic institution access to the student’s or applicant’s social networking profile or account. This Bill also prohibits academic institutions from requesting that a student or applicant log onto their respective social networking site to provide the academic institution direct access to the student’s or applicant’s social networking site profile or account. It is acknowledged by the General Assembly that new technological advances in internet use and social networking require new approaches to protecting reasonable expectations of privacy in personal information.