U.S. court weighs school discipline for lewd web posts

Courts have issued mixed rulings on whether students can be punished for off-campus internet speech.
Courts have issued mixed rulings on whether students can be punished for off-campus internet speech.

A U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia heard arguments June 3 over whether school officials can discipline students for making lewd, harassing, or juvenile internet postings from off-campus computers, in a pair of cases that could help define the boundaries between students’ free-speech rights and the rights of administrators to punish students for digital indiscretions that occur outside of school.

Two students from two different Pennsylvania school districts are fighting suspensions they received for posting derisive profiles of their principals on MySpace from home computers. The American Civil Liberties Union argued that school officials infringe on students’ free-speech rights when they reach beyond school grounds in such cases to impose discipline.

“While children are in school, they are under the custody and tutelage of the school,” ACLU lawyer Witold Walczak argued in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “Once they leave the schoolhouse gate, you’ve got parents that come into play.”…Read More

Google’s convoluted search for China compromise

Shedding China’s shackles on free speech is proving to be easier said than done for Google Inc, reports the Associated Press. The internet search leader is still censoring its results in China a month after Google’s leaders took a public stand against Chinese laws that require the removal of links to web sites that the government deems subversive or offensive. Citing the sensitivity of the talks, Google officials won’t say how the negotiations have been going since the company issued its Jan. 12 threat to shut down its China-based search engine and possibly leave the country altogether. Google is demanding that the government tear down the so-called “Great Firewall” that seeks to keep China’s citizens from finding politically sensitive information and images.

Google’s top lawyer, David Drummond, initially said that Google would take a few weeks to meet with government officials before deciding what to do. But Google officials now say the company might parse its Chinese search results for several more months while it steers through a political and cultural minefield in search of a compromise with the ruling party…

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