“Californians cannot afford to go back to the digital dark ages,” groups warn.
EFF and a diverse coalition of advocacy groups sent a letter to the California legislature urging elected officials to oppose A,B, 165. This bill would roll back privacy protections for students and teachers by exempting California public schools from the prohibition on warrantless digital searches lawmakers enacted two years ago.
The letter calls for the legislature to protect the legal rights of the 6-million Californians who study and work in public schools. Signers included Transgender Law Center, Courage Campaign, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Health Connected, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, the American Library Association, and many others.
This attempt to strip away privacy protections comes during a tumultuous political moment in American history, where many political activists, immigrant families, and LGBTQ Americans are rightly fearful of federal policies that endanger their safety, privacy, and other civil liberties. The coalition letter called out these concerns specifically:
"Students or staff from Muslim or immigrant communities are rightly concerned that they or their family members and friends would be at risk if their digital information were wrongfully obtained and misused. Half of California students have at least one immigrant parent – and more than half of these parents are not citizens. Members of the school community may fear reprisal for participating in online or real-world social or political activism that their school’s administration may not support. LGBTQ students or staff may have concerns about their personal and professional relationships and even their safety. And youth who live in poverty, for whom their cell phone may be their primary or only means of accessing the Internet and thus seeking information about health, sexuality, or other sensitive topics, are vulnerable to even greater exposure of their personal lives than other students with greater access to technology in the home."
EFF urges concerned Californians to speak out against A.B. 165. If you live in California, please contact your elected officials today.
And if you are a student or teacher who has witnessed a device search by a school official in California, please tell us about it.
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