Teen Cellphone Photos, Texts, Contacts Being Searched at School: ACLU of SoCal Says It's Illegal
A report issued by the ACLU of Southern California lists some anecdotal evidence that school authorities are searching the contents of students' phones when they're confiscated.
Fine, you say. But some of that information ...
... might actually be yours.
After all, if your child is on a family plan, has family photos or has your address, that might all be accessed by people you don't know.
Schools are taking phones away from teens for improper use (texting, talking) in class. "Sixty-four percent of teens who own cell phones have sent a text message while in class," the ACLU states in its just-released study of school cellphone searches, "HELLO! Students Have a Right to Privacy in Their Cellphones."
While the ACLU didn't come up with any solid nationwide stats, it did offer some scary incidents of cellphone confiscation, including this one:
... In Fred Thompson Jr. High in Bakersfield, a school with about 800 students, school staff reportedly confiscate up to 50 cell phones a week.
The organization says that recent research indicates more than 8 in 10 17-year-olds have mobile phones and nearly 6 in 10 12-year-olds do.
It claims that teachers and administrators looking through your kids' phone content is not legal:
As cell phones become more and more indispensable to young people, confiscation and searches of students' phones by school authorities has become widespread. Because such searches provide a window into every aspect of a students' private life, they violate the laws that protect students' privacy rights.
One example the ACLU uses: What if a teen is gay but not out yet. That info could be on her phone, which could be searched by administrators in the current environment. (Note also that it's legal in California for cops to search your phone if you're arrested. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a law that would have put a stop to that practice).
Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California:
Without reasonable suspicion that a student has violated a rule or law using the phone, beyond simply having it out in the open or turned on in violation of school policy, there is no legal justification for searching the phone.
We have two words for teens and parents: Passcode protection.