Today's column is about how Florida lawmakers want to ban employers from demanding their employees turn over private passwords to Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
That practice, which has been exposed among employers in other states, is the ultimate invasion of privacy. No manager should be able to peek in on an employee's private, off-the-clock conversations.
So I like Senate Bill 198 and House Bill 527.
And it seems like the chances for the bill making it to the governor's desk are decent. The sponsors, Rep. Karen Castor Dentel and Sen. Jeff Clemens, are democrats, but some republicans have voiced support.
And while two business lobby groups are opposing the bill, it's worth noting that the Florida Chamber of Commerce is staying out of it.
But it's also worth noting there's another frontier to social media privacy that deserves attention in this state. And that's the privacy rights of student athletes.
Lots of universities, including some in Florida, ask student athletes to install software that lets universities monitor their social media accounts.
The argument for this is that student athletes represent the university's brand and we all know that we've seen plenty of cases where athletes have tweeted their exasperation for petty things like having to go to class or about how they just can't wait to leave the university.
These things upset the universities so they like to use software that watches for key words involving vulgarities, drugs, sex, alcohol, potential professional agents and grades.
But isn't that a lot to ask of student athletes? They're on scholarship, yes, but they aren't employees. At least not technically.
There are certainly risks that come with handing a 18-year-old kid a microphone that has the ability to broadcast anything that pops into his or her head across the globe. But that's the world we live in today. And college is the place where we are supposed to learn.
More states are filing legislation to prohibit universities from invading students' privacy. Some universities require athletes to "friend" an athletic director so the account could be monitored. Some require athletes to install software.
The approach that I like best so far is one taken by Colgate University, which according to this Inside Higher Ed piece, puts some thought into how they approach social media with athletes. They actually provide some training to the athletes. And they urge them to think about social media as a tool -- a tool to get recruited to the professional level or find a job or an internship.
What do you think?
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