Wednesday, 19 November 2014

"Defamatory materials"

I know we have survived months without some proper investigatory journalism, and subsequent total 'defamation' of the school on this blog (mainly because sod all has happened), and reverted to our classic snide satirical spoofs, but this document (regards, Julie LaSange) needs a good going-through, much like any confiscated phone. The document in question is that of the school's ICT Acceptable Use Policy, catchy title I know; not the poultry one (by which I mean foul) of only one-and-a-half pages on the school's website for students and parents, the three-page mind-bender for teachers to sign when they begin working at school.

Having read a copy of it, I can say that it might as well be renamed the Anti-Trash and Orwellian Activities Policy, as that is pretty much what it is. The main synopsis of the piece, much like the online student version, centres around the ideas that 'If we want to, we can monitor you as much as we feel necessary', because a self-governing systems have no chance of ever being corrupt, and 'If you defame the school, we're calling the cops', because that worked out so well for them last time. What also worked out so well for them is their sense of a "duty of care", which they mention in a grammatically incorrect sentence.

What remains prevalent in both the student and teacher policies is the fact that you "will not create, send or post any material that is likely to cause offence or needless anxiety to other people or bring the school into disrepute". Well that's us screwed. Oh well. Their choice of verb in the student version is quite funny; they could have said 'cannot', but they chose 'will not', as if their saying will have some effect on students that will deter them from ever bringing the school into disrepute. The finality of this already broken promise is transferable to the teacher version, as they list almost exactly the same things, but say that users "must not" do them, as well as saying that "This specifically includes defamatory materials".

We iz so shook lyk

Surely, though, as a Rights Respecting School that does have internet in gay abandon, they should openly applaud people voicing their opinions online, and have access to the Mass Media (like that hasn't stopped them before)? Teacher policy dictates that users must "Use appropriate language and materials"; none of that fruity language, though. And, of course, 'appropriate' use is defined and governed by the SLT, so users theoretically have no right to mass media, nor freedom of speech online. What a surprise. What does the school have to say of this? "networked resources is [sic] a privilege, not a right."

So rights respecting.

Then we come to a fantastic contradiction in a legal document, because the school spent all their Legal Advice Budget on an iPad for some knob who hasn't been ill for a while and some banners. In one section they say that users 'MUST' "Accept responsibility for any action taken at a workstation whilst they are logged in, whether they are physically present or not", however later on it states that "Any malicious attempt to harm or destroy any equipment or data belonging either to the school, to another user, or another network connected to the school system will result in loss of access, and, if appropriate, disciplinary action and/or legal referral." So the school will lay the blame for something happening on the victim, but simultaneously lay the blame on the perpetrator. This seems farcical, especially in a binding document that was supposedly proof-read. Victim or perpetrator. Pick one.

It goes on to say users must "Inform the network manager immediately if a security problem is identified and not demonstrate this problem to other users" or, in other words, don't do a Mailmerge.

It then declares that users must not "Gain or attempt to gain unauthorised access to data and resources on the school network system or other systems." No need to, they leave all their sensitive 'secure' data on the shared server.

Finally, we come to a little diktat that shows the Management doesn't quite understand human nature (you have to be one to know it) or how the internet works. It decrees that "Staff or students finding unsuitable websites through the school network should report the web address to the network manager." Someone using the internet, especially a fully-grown adults, tends not to just stumble on an 'unsuitable' website; they actively search them out. And then, if they have actively sought out and wanted to see these 'unsuitable' websites, it's not exactly in their best interest to then go and report it to someone who will then block it. Get a little perspective.

As always, the full document is on Szemelileaks here, and the student version you can find here.

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