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Legal Actions of School Against a Proxy's Host? 200

WakefieldHS-students asks: "I attend a public school, Wakefield High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. A friend of mine recently created a site that hosted a web proxy browser. It ran for a few months, and others at our school found out about it. The original domain was blocked by the censorship software the school uses, and it was changed a few times to get around this. Recently, he was forced to take down the proxy, with the threat of not graduating and the taking of legal action by the school. What legal rights, if any, can the school use to ban someone from hosting a website? Furthermore, what rights does the U.S. Government have to censor such websites?"
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Legal Actions of School Against a Proxy's Host?

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  • by 9mm Censor ( 705379 ) * on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:29PM (#15511108) Homepage
    They can block what they want on their network.
  • by Cyphertube ( 62291 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:34PM (#15511123) Homepage Journal

    Of course, since the operation of proxy server is not done under school property and doesn't have anything to do with the care of the student, the argument for it being in loco parentis doesn't really hold water.

    Of particular note, if he's near graduating, he may well be 18 already, at which point in loco parentis no longer applies. By threatening his academic situation, a publically mandated and required function of the school, by regarding his own actions off school time, then they could actually be sued on grounds of harrassment.

    Now, they could pursue action against him for access the proxy from the school, but not against him for others.

    Moreover, since I was nailed under in loco parentis when I was in middle school, I can tell you that loco parentis ceases the instant you enter your front door, if you ride the bus home from school. I got nailed for verbally assaulting the bus driver (who later was nailed for felony hit and runs against mailboxes, thus disproving the slander and defamation charges they 'threatened' me with). As I was told, if I'd entered my house, come back out, and then yelled at her, it would have been out of the school's hands.

  • by technoextreme ( 885694 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:50PM (#15511170)
    What legal rights, if any, can the school use to ban someone from hosting a website? Furthermore, what rights does the U.S. Government have to censor such websites?

    Bah.. There are probably plenty of Supremem Court cases related to this but without being a lawyer it's really hard to draw analogies. The closest argument I can find that seems to make sense is this link to a wikipedia article about public forums. []
    PS. If you really want to find out who is right have your friend take the school to court and bring it all the way to the Supreme Court need be. Then you will really know.
  • by techfury90 ( 806273 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @10:22PM (#15511270)
    I go to WHS, so I know about this story. Basically he was running a proxy to allow people to visit banned sites such as MySpace from there, which was its typical use. Every time someone was in the computer lab, you'd see MySpace up via this website.
  • by ceejayoz ( 567949 ) <> on Saturday June 10, 2006 @11:12PM (#15511423) Homepage Journal
    And I'd be willing to wager a large amount of cash he didn't have to sign a "I will not host a web proxy server" document when he started to attend the school.

    My public school required the signing of an Internet use contract before getting an account on the network. The bit about not doing anything to evade the school's blocking software would certainly apply in this case, and I would be very surprised to hear of a public school that didn't require a similar contract with their students.
  • by alizard ( 107678 ) <> on Sunday June 11, 2006 @01:24AM (#15511730) Homepage
    accepts 10 cents or $10 billion, Federal money = Federal control. However, the average district gets more than 10 cents.
    Although federal funding constitutes roughly seven percent of a school districts budget [], it is needed to fund increased costs for services that are attributable to rising student enrollment and inflation. A primary concern regarding federal funding for education programs appropriated by Congress each year is that the actual amounts fall below what has been designated, or authorized, under laws such as the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).. . ."

    Laughable? You go tell a school board at a meeting that they really don't need 7% of their budget. While you might get laughter as a response, they aren't going to be laughing with you, they'll be laughing at you.

  • Contact the ACLU (Score:3, Informative)

    by DerKlempner ( 249063 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @04:02AM (#15512024) Homepage
    Fifteen years ago, my best friend was in a similar situation. Two weeks until graduation and a suspension rolls in for distributing our homemade "newspaper." The suspension was a temporary punishment while the school tried to start expulsion hearings based on the fact that the school faculty didn't like what was printed in the newspaper. We contacted the ACLU and immediately had a representative at the school's expulsion hearing. The school didn't like to hear an ACLU lawyer telling them how they were going to be sued for denying two constitutional rights of free speech and free press. Three days after the initial suspension, my friend was back in school and went on to graduate.

    The events weren't even placed in his school records.

    If you think the school is trying to quash the rights of free speech and ideas, then by all means contact your local ACLU representatives. They'll help you fight against the the school's attempts to punish you if it's unconstitutional.
  • by gozar ( 39392 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:55AM (#15512665) Homepage
    1) If they accept e-rate funding, the district is required to have a board approved acceptable use policy, which is signed by the staff, students, and parents. This AUP usually spells out things you are not allowed to do, and are written so that bypassing the filtering would fall under the no hacking policy.

    2) Filtering is required by the CIPA.

    3) School districts can punish students for things students have done on their own time on their own equipment if it disrupts school activities. For example, if a student puts up a website with negative info about a teacher, but no one goes to it, then the school can't punish the student. If the student puts up negative info about a teacher and everyone in the district is visiting the website during the school day, then the school district can take action.

    In this case, if it was disruptive in school, then the district can punish the student, including not allowing them to participate in commencement activities.
  • by grahamm ( 8844 ) <> on Monday June 12, 2006 @08:23AM (#15516141) Homepage
    As you were accessing your own computer, the Computer Misuse Act does not apply. If they had insisted that it did, then all you would have to do is give yourself written permission to remotely access your own computer.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas