Bill to allow unfettered searches of student cellphones is withdrawn by author

A measure that would have authorized a teacher or administrator to rifle through student cellphones without cause was held by the author due to overwhelming opposition to the bill.

AB 165 by Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) would eliminate protections against searches of cellphones for any student at a K-12 public school to ostensibly prevent cyber bullying.

AB 165 becomes a two-year bill which means it can be taken up in January, 2018 at the beginning of the second year of the legislature’s biennial session.

CNPA, the ACLU, and several internet trade associations opposed the bill. CNPA’s opposition stemmed for the bill’s assault on student privacy rights. It threatened the ability of student journalists to gather and report news by subjecting students to potential discipline for refusing to relinquish their cell phones or other electronic devices that could contain the names of anonymous sources, the journalist’s notes or other unpublished information.

California student journalists have special protections under the Education Code, which prohibits a school from taking action against a student who is a journalist or exercises his or her speech or press rights on campus.