US Constitutional Issues

In addition to the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution apply differently to students in a public school. Here, again, the requirements of keeping students safe and under control in its joint educational and in loco parentis roles are balanced against the students' civil rights, limiting the rights that would apply were they adults in a non-school setting. That means, in simple terms, that schools have greater authority over students than other governmental agencies do, such as police. But even then, their authority is not absolute. Finding that line is not always easy. But schools need to find it to avoid getting sued and violating students' civil rights. Visit WiredSafety's Schools section (in User Categories) to learn more about this important issue.

Privacy Rights

common Law Rights of Privacy

There are privacy statutes, data regulations, constitutional rights and common law rights that govern privacy around the world. Each is basicly built on the concept that certain things are given greater legal privacy protect than others. In the US we focus on keeping the government out of our personal affairs. In Europe, it's allowing the government, but limiting commercial access. The differences are probably based on the difference in social programs, such as governmental health benefits in Europe.

It can be helpful to look at US common laws on privacy which, although not recognized by all states, serve as the underpinning of many privacy expectations. Privacy common laws recognize the following:

  1. Intrusion on seclusion (having someone interrupt your physical privacy);
  2. False light (true facts combined in such a way to lead other to a false conclusion);
  3. Public disclosure of private facts (informational privacy); and
  4. Right of publicity (or identity) that covers impersonation and commercial use of your name or image without authorization.

They were always recognized as the core privacy rights because of the likelihood of harm caused by their violation. They are a good place to start when considering sensitive data classifications and its treatment. To learn more about sensitive data and information read Parry Aftab's articles on . She is an Internet privacy and security lawyer, as well as the Executive Director of WiredSafety.

Privacy and Data Protection

Privacy means different things to different people. To some it is the right to be left alone. To others it's protecting their personal information and not sharing secrets. Sometimes it means deciding who has access to what information about you and what they can do with it. And to everyone, it means you have or should have control over some things about you, without having to share them at all.

The laws that govern privacy and related human rights range from state, provincial and federal constitutions or charters of rights, the Magna Carta, data protection laws and regulations, statutes, common law to contractual rights and consumer protection.

Typically, privacy laws cover sensitive information (racial, religious, union membership, governmental benefits information, victimization records, school records, etc.), financial information (social security numbers or social insurance numbers, bank account and credit card information, credit histories and creditworthiness, etc.), health information (insurance, health records, disabilities, risks, family health records, etc.) and personal information collected from or about children (which may cover minors, typically 18 or under, or preteens, or youth under the age of fourteen, depending on the jurisdiction and country).

Information collected about us online generally falls into one of three types: personally identifiable information ("PII, "where it can be tracked back to you and tied to your real name, contact information etc.), generic information (which removes all personally identifiable information and just stores the general information, such as gender, age, state or town you live in, etc.) and profile information (that may tie to your online identity, but doesn't disclose who you are in real life).

Give some thought to what information you can safely show and to whom for what purpose. WiredSafety will be adding a new app shortly to allow you to figure out the best privacy settings and choices to keep the private stuff private. Check back in June for that new app. It will help. Trust us!