Legislation could hinder online student papers in N.J.

NEW JERSEY -- A bill passed by the state House of Representatives in June that was meant to protect the privacy of students in the Garden State also has the ability to greatly restrict the rights of the high school student press.

HB 592, which is currently in the Senate, would make it illegal for any personal information about students to be posted on a school Web site without written consent from a legal guardian. This could include an online student newspaper.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Barbara Buono and Assemblyman George Geist, could require schools to prohibit student newspapers from posting anything from students' names to photos on a school-sponsored Web site, despite the fact that such material routinely appears in the print version of student publications available in public libraries and other places.

Neither Buono nor Geist returned calls made to their offices by the Report.

Fall 2000, reports