Maryland Senate proposes social media monitoring ban

Maryland Senate proposes social media monitoring ban

Maryland’s Senate is proposing a bill that would prohibit universities and colleges from requiring access to a student's social media activity.

At issue is whether pictures and posts of the past should be allowed to be used against a student's future prospects.

Currently at the University of Maryland, some athletic coaches require student athletes to be friends with them on Facebook, all to keep tabs on them. University officials say it's not required, just up to each coach.

"They're sort of representing the school in a way. I guess it's important for the coaches to keep tabs on them, what's going on," said student Patrick Demosky.

But a new bill being introduced would stop schools from tracking students online. It would prevent schools from requiring students to give their user names and passwords or to install monitoring software on their computers. It would also prohibit administrators to be their Facebook friends.

Aaron Krens, a former student athlete, wasn't comfortable with the idea of schools tracking students.

"I personally don't like it," Krens said. "I think they should be able to do what they want and not have to worry about their coaches or anybody oversee[ing] what they do."

Maryland Senators Ronald Young, Delores Kelley, Nelly King, Karen Montgomery, and Christopher Shank proposed the bill.

A bill synopsis says that the aim of the bill is to prohibit “an institution of post-secondary education from requiring a student or an applicant for admission to provide access to a personal account or service through an electronic communications device, to disclose any user name, password, or other means for accessing specified accounts or services through an electronic communications device, or to install on specified electronic communications devices software that monitors or tracks electronic content; etc.”

Some students have set up fake Facebook accounts to skirt the system at Maryland.

"I know a lot of people change their names on Facebook, so they're not using their real last name so people can't find them," said student Mitchell Zack.

The bill is really the first to handle the issue of student privacy and it could affect other universities as well, like the University of North Carolina, where a policy requires student athletes to be friends with a coach on Facebook or to be followed on Twitter.

"The University of Maryland won't say if it is for or against this pending legislation. As for the NCAA, a spokeswoman says it's reviewing the bill to see if it affects [their] rules."