SECTION 1. Chapter 15A of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-
Section 44. (a) As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
“Educational institution”, a public or private higher education institution located in the commonwealth.
“Personal social media account", a social media account, service or profile that is used by a current or prospective student exclusively for personal communications unrelated to any educational purpose of the educational institution; provided however, that “personal social media account” shall not include any social media account created, maintained, used or accessed by a student or prospective student for education related communications or for an educational purpose of the educational institution.
“Social media”, an electronic medium allowing users to create, share and view user-generated content including, but not limited to, uploading or downloading videos or still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, messages, e-mails or internet website profiles or locations.
(b) No educational institution shall:
(i) require, request or cause a student or applicant to disclose a user name, password or other means for access, or provide access through a user name or password, to a personal social media account;
(ii) compel a student or applicant, as a condition of acceptance or participation in curricular or extracurricular activities, to add a person, including but not limited to, a coach, teacher, school administrator or other school employee or school volunteer, to the student’s or applicant’s list of contacts associated with a personal social media account; or
(iii) take or threaten adverse action against a student or applicant, including restraining the student’s participation in extracurricular activities, for refusing to disclose information specified in clause (i) or for refusing to add a coach, teacher, school administrator or other school employee or school volunteer to a list of contacts associated with a personal social media account, as specified in clause (ii).
(c) This section shall not apply to information about a student or applicant that is publicly available.
(d) Nothing in this section shall limit an educational institution’s right to promulgate and maintain lawful policies governing the use of the educational institution’s electronic equipment, including policies regarding use of the internet, email or social media.
(e) An aggrieved student or prospective student may institute a civil action for damages or to restrain a violation of this section and may recover: (i) $1,000 for each request that violates clause (i) or (ii) of subsection (b); (ii) $1,000 for each adverse action, which violates clause (iii) of subsection (b), or actual damages, whichever amount is higher; (iii) punitive damages if a court determines that a violation was willful; and (iv) reasonable attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred.
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