Friday, May 25, 2007

My privacy trumps yours?

BBC NEWS | England | Staffordshire | Students criticise staff on net: "Students criticise staff on net
Keele University
The university has threatened students with legal action
A university has written to all its students threatening them with disciplinary action for comments made about staff on the internet.

Keele University said the remarks on Myspace and Facebook were unacceptable, and students may face legal action from the members of staff concerned.

A spokesman said the university would establish new rules for using those websites on campus.

Students should use 'legitimate ways' to express dissatisfaction, they added."

Read this little article on the BBC's website and it strikes me that there are a few privacy issues conflicting here. Privacy of staff because they have a right not to be publically criticised / defamed. Privacy of students because they have a right to use the internet as they want when they're not on university premises. How long would any rules on use of such social networking websites last? For current students? For alumni forever?? Big brother's watching you... still watching... still watching... still watching... yup... still watching...

I know I'd be mortified if I were 'named and shamed' in my professional capacity, but there's a real sense when using sites like MySpace etc that you're in your own personal space. Outside the bounds of employers / institutions. Whose rights trump whose? When do we have to stop looking over our shoulders? Okay to think those thoughts but not okay to express them? It may be true, but you still can't say it. Freedom ends here?

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