TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Principals Claim Right to Search Cell Phones

Re: Principals Claim Right to Search Cell Phones
17 Jul 2006 08:49:47 -0700

> Monty Solomon wrote:

>> By Tyler B. Reed/ Daily News Staff

>> FRAMINGHAM -- High school administrators under a new policy are
>> claiming the right to snatch information stored in students' cell
>> phones when they search for drugs or stolen property at school.

>> "We reserve the right to look through the cell phone," Principal
>> Michael Welch said. "It would be no different than if a student were
>> to have a notebook. We've had instances of graffiti. We've looked
>> through a notebook and found identical instances of graffiti."

I am uncomfortable with this. It is one thing to 'search' a student
to ensure he is not carrying a weapon or stolen property. It is
another to look into his or her _thoughts_ by reading anything
belonging to the student, be it a notebook, laptop, etc. I would
strongly object to this unless there was a court ordered search
warrant caused by the most gravest of circumstances.

In this country, we supposedly have freedom of association and not
guilt by association. If a kid just happens to have a gang banger's
phone number on his speed dial, that by no means makes the kid a
criminal himself, nor should it. (I also worry about CCTV cameras
capturing an innocent encounter and it being used as evidence as

This kind of power leads to "thought crimes". A kid may have done
nothing wrong, but doodling or writings may get him charged with
numerous criminal offenses.

Many people use pen and pencil private notes as an outlet for their
frustration or fantasies. Many people keep diaries or journals of
some sort. Now those private thoughts will be evidence for "criminal
activity". If a boy writes down inappropriate fantasies of a girl,
he'll be accused as a rapist and sent off to a shrink or other
punishment. If a girl writes a fantasy romance with a teacher, that
teacher will be prosecuted even if the fantasy was only that and not
real. Of course any angry writings will be cause for big trouble.

President Harry Truman was famous for writing nasty letters to vent
his frustration but never mailing them (except once to a critic of his
daughter's singing). If those letters ever became public during his
term he'd be impeached. But they were his private thoughts and
remained so until long after he left office, as it should be.

Can anyone justify this kind of searching?

Would you like it if your employer searched and read your personal
notebooks, papers, your private cellphone records, as you left the

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