Summary - Laptops and other devices continue to
increase internet access to staff and students. This article
discusses issues that should be considered in relation to
Due to laptop computers, mobile phones, android, Google and
Apple i-products, educational institutions need to be at the
cutting edge of growing cyber-issues and have appropriate policies
and support in place.
Even desktop PC's in computer rooms which have had internet
access and content filters for years are becoming less secure as
most students from an early high school age can navigate past those
filters through the use of proxy servers. Users with a keen
interest in computer subjects are often capable of far greater
feats than they are given credit for.
Alex Kohn has written an interesting article titled Criminal Aspects of Cyber Bullying which discusses the
duty of care owed by a school to its students. Those principles
could equally apply to tertiary educational institutions, such as
TAFE or Universities. Online social networking issues can equally
apply in those settings to teachers and other staff members as a
duty of care exists to provide employees with a safe place of
Apart from the obligations on staff and students to refrain from
using an online forum to bully or harass, they must also refrain
from comments that could be seen as defamatory or malicious in
relation to other persons or the educational institution as a
The ease in which frustration can be vented electronically to
groups of people, sometimes including co-workers, management or the
general viewing public, has resulted in increased numbers of
employment terminations and student expulsions due to inappropriate
and sometimes defamatory comments placed on social network
Complaint prevention rather than cure
While we are regularly instructed to assist with the
investigation and resolution of these types of disputes, we also
provide advice to clients as to how best to avoid the disputes
altogether. Just a few strategies for different circumstances
Implement and regularly update computer/internet/social media
Provide copies of those policies to staff and students and also
display copies in relevant locations such as computer rooms;
Educate staff and students how to differentiate between
appropriate and inappropriate communications; and
Explain how to obtain support from, and make a complaint to,
the educational institution itself.
Individual situations will differ but a general culture of
awareness around acceptable conduct and complaint procedures can
help people to self-monitor their communications and result in
early reporting of inappropriate communications. The above
strategies can be significant tools in reducing the number and
severity of complaints surrounding online social networking.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The issue of recording telephone calls was recently considered in the Federal Court in Furnari v Ziegert  FCA 1080.
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