Thursday, June 21, 2012

Supreme Court OK's specific, narrow regulations of broadcast content; Northern VA school district tightens rules on social media

The Supreme Court ruled today that the FCC can regulate indecent content on broadcast media more severely than other places, but must have specific, consistent rules. The Court threw out fines against Fox and ABC.  But maybe the FCC can ban broadcast airing of "wardrobe malfunctions".  (Justin Timberlake has grown up since then.)

The Supreme Court slip opinion is here.

There are many media accounts, such as this from station WJLA, (website url) link.

The ruling would lead one to believe that censorship laws in other areas (such as COPA, struck down in 2006 for overbreadth at the district level after two trips to the Supreme Court) might meet First Amendment challenges if they are tailored narrowly enough.  The recent controversy over state laws holding service providers responsible for ads involving minors could pass muster if drawn up properly.

Also, more locally, the Arlington County School Board has promulgated some rules involving employees (teachers) and social media, at least requiring any social media use in class lesson plans be approved and submitted to administrators for oversight. Arlington also forbids individual contact between teachers and students through social media, phones or email.  Apparently the District and Fairfax County are considering similar policies.  It’s not clear if this applies to substitute teachers (at least when not long-term subs).

Lisa Gartner has a story in the Washington Examiner, and reports that in the past few years over 100 teachers in Virginia have lost licenses because of inappropriate behavior online.

The rules do not restrict self-published content beyond the obvious expectations about respecting confidentiality and avoiding illegal content.  However, when I resumed subbing in Fairfax County in early 2007 (I did so for just one semester), I was told I should not mention to anyone that I even had a presence online (see July 27, 2007).

The Examiner link is here.

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