​No Student Right to Privacy on School Networks

LOOSE LIPS LOSE PRIVILEGES: Schools often find themselves in a quagmire when it comes to managing students’ online activities. Do too little, and you can be accused of not taking precautionary measures against harmful use like cyberbullying. Do too much, and you might wind up like Williamson County School District, whose device policies violate First and Fourth amendments, according to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Wired reports on how the district of 41 schools and 35,000 students has a policy allowing school officials to search student devices (both personal and school-issued) for any ill-defined “school-related purpose.” Posts--even those shared on personal social media--found to be “inappropriate” are punishable by loss of access to the school network and possible criminal prosecution.

The ACLU and EFF were tipped off when a parent was forced to sign the school’s policy after it refused to let his daughter use the class computers. The state’s ACLU legal director, while giving the district a stern wrist slap, hopes this was merely an unintentional overreach on its part. What do you think? It’s not the first time that a district has gone to obscene measures to monitor students.

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