ACLU opposes student cell phone policy
The ACLU of Washington has told the Oak Harbor School Board that a proposed policy for searching student cell phones goes too far and violates students’ privacy rights.
“The proposed policy is overly broad. Searching telecommunication devices impinges on student privacy significantly more than a traditional backpack or locker search. Cell phones store a virtually limitless amount of highly personal information dating back months or years,” says Brian Alseth, director of the ACLU’s technology and liberty project.
“By searching a smart phone, administrators could determine a studentâ€™s political views, whether a student is having relationship problems, whether their parents might be considering a divorce, whether the student has personal health issues or is pregnant, and whether the student likes sports, World of Warcraft, or shopping for lingerie,” says Alseth.
Instead of Oak Harbor’s proposal, the ACLU supports a policy that would allow school officials to seize devices that they reasonably suspect to contain illegal content and then turn the devices over to law enforcement.
In a letter to the school district’s principal, the ACLU also suggests the district could deter sexting at school by banning students from sending, sharing, or viewing sexually explicit material while at school.
ACLU of Washington has not issued a statement yet on the Seattle School District’s new policy that allows school administrators to discipline students based on “off campus” postings through Facebook, MySpace or texting that have a negative effect on student learning.