Feeds

Student's suspension for IM buddy icon upheld by US court

Ready . . . AIM . . . censor!

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Student speech in the US continues to take a beating.

The Supreme Court, in the infamous "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case decided last month, signaled to the federal judiciary that it was open season on student speech. Indeed, Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion, argued that students should have no free speech rights whatsoever.

Justice Thomas' opinion carries no precedential weight, but the message was clear: this is a stern, paternalistic Court that will not tolerate horseplay from those punk kids.

Now the ripples from that case's jurisprudential cannonball have started to radiate. In a case decided last week by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, the court upheld a semester-long suspension because of a student's AOL Instant Messaging buddy icon against a First Amendment challenge brought on the student's behalf by his parents.

The school, Weedsport Middle School in New York, suspended the student, Aaron Wisniewski, after it came to the attention of school administrators that Wisniewski's AIM account displayed a crude drawing of a pistol firing a bullet at a person's head, with the caption "Kill Mr. VanderMolen." VanderMolen taught Wisniewski English at the time.

Wisniewski displayed the icon in his communications with AIM contacts - some of whom were also Weedsport students - for three weeks. Wisniewski never displayed the icon to the teacher in question or any other school official.

The school administration only became aware of the buddy icon after one of Wisniewski's classmates told the teacher about it and provided him with a copy. The teacher forwarded the icon to school officials, who suspended Wisniewski for five days and ordered a review of the situation by the superintendent.

During this time, a police investigator interviewed Wisniewski and concluded that the icon was meant as a joke, and that Wisniewski posed no real threat to the teacher or the school. A psychologist who evaluated Wisniewski reached the same conclusion.

The superintendent's review found otherwise, however, ruling that the icon was threatening, and not meant as a joke. The review also found that, although the icon was only displayed outside of school, it violated school rules and disrupted school operations. The reviewer dismissed the opinions of the investigator and psychologist, stating that Wisniewski's intent was irrelevant to the inquiry.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.