TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Schools Prohibit Personal E-mail Sites

Re: Schools Prohibit Personal E-mail Sites
9 Jun 2005 10:25:21 -0700

Robert Bonomi wrote:

>> On some of your arguments, frankly, you seem to be splitting hairs.

> That, kiddo, *IS* the way the law works. Get used to it.

> If you want to assert what is required/forbidden by law, you have to
> get the details right.
> As with *any* legal mater, the precise details of the specific
> situation make _all_the_difference_in_the_world_.

I stand by my original statement. You are splitting hairs
and that is irrelevent in the real world.

Every organization and every government has a long list of rules and
laws. The reality of life is that some are strictly enforced, but a
great many are virtually ignored. Some laws/ rules are utilized as an
easy way to prosecute someone who has done other things wrong but are
harder to prove.

You seem to be focusing solely what is on paper and not in practice.

In the days of the Bell System, it was said they could disconnect your
phone service if they found an illegal extension hooked up on your
line. (I don't know if that's a myth or not). Bell Labs Record
announced an automated device to test the load of telephone lines to
compare it to company records to see if unauthorized sets were in use.
(In those days people would disconnect the ringer to avoid detection
that way.)

Anyway, rules are not, in the grand scheme of things I really doubt
that a significant number of extension violators actually lost their
telephone service. Indeed, I wonder how many of those automated
detector devices were actually built and used in service. (Finding an
illegal extension as part of a repair request is another story -- Mother
calls 611 not knowing that Son has a bootleg phone in his room.)

The legal system is not interested in the trivial or frivolous under
normal conditions. (There are always extreme exceptions.)

The basic question of this discussion is the impact of the US
Constitution (not passed laws) on the operation of government agencies
vs. the private sector, such as the power of schools libraries, or
govt agencies to censor communications.

I stand by my original assertion that computer systems that are the
property of some government agency may be regulated by that agency
just as a private company would regulate the equipment. I'm sure
someone will run out and dig up some exceptions, but overall that is

I also stand by my assertion that there is no such thing as totally
"free speech". What is argued is the permissable _degree_ of the
speech in terms of both content and form.

You cited a case where someone was prosecuted for illegal use of a
govt copying machine. Well, in your example, the person was making an
extensive use of it for an outside business. My point is that in
reality, government employees everywhere are making copies of recipes,
directions to a house party, and other personal stuff every day, and I
really doubt anyone will be prosecuted for doing that. Maybe you'll
dig up an exception or two here and there, but my point remains.

Any other thoughts out there?

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