Trouble is brewing in the United Kingdom due to the proposed Education Bill for England that would allow teachers to search students, confiscate their mobile phone, and even go through their phone in order to find evidence of any misconduct. Everyone is of course outraged, with the NASWUT (National Association of Schoolmasters / Union of Women Teachers) calling the proposed legislation “reckless”, saying that it’s “putting teachers into confrontation with parents and with children and young people”. The whole reason this law was proposed in the first place was because of kids harassing each other via text messages. It’s gossiping and name calling in the 21st century. But what happens if a teacher goes through the phone of a young girl who sent naughty pictures of herself to her boyfriend. Will she be tried as a child pornographer or will a teacher understand that this is the modern form of “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine”?
All of this can of course be easily circumvented by students thanks to today’s modern mobile phones that feature the ability to set a pass phrase in order to thwart intruders from accessing sensitive information. If anything this proposed legislation is going to teach children the value of security and privacy and will create a generation who start locking their devices; something they should have been doing all along.
That being said, similar legislation would never, ever, fly in the USA. The Fourth Amendement, you know, the one that forbids unlawful search and seizures, would let students flip the bird at their professors if they even dared ask them to hand over one of the most private devices they own. Then again these are children, so do they have the same rights as adults? Tricky answer. We’re going to have to quote Pink Flyod on this one: “Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!”