CELL PHONES AT THE SCHOOL HOUSE: EXPECTATIONS OF PRIVACY, INTERPRETATIONS OF PROTECTION AND THE RESPONSE OF SCHOOLS
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Through combined traditional legal and documentary research, in addition to a review of current social scientific academic literature on youth perception and behavior, this study sought to answer these questions: 1. What is a student’s “reasonable expectation of privacy” in a handheld internet connected device as defined by the federal circuit and appellate courts? 2. What are students’ expectations of privacy in handheld internet connected devices as identified by social science and evidenced in popular culture? 3. Do these expectations align? The federal court cases identified in this research illustrate that courts have yet to interpret the application of the Fourth Amendment to student cell phones at schools with sufficient depth and uniformity to inform policymakers concerning a consistent, universally applicable expectation of privacy for student cell phones. Not only do the decisions in these cases give erratic guidance, almost all of them fail to fully contemplate the very strong, emotional expectations of privacy that many students evidence in their cell phones through social media. A lack of clear direction from the courts, the absence of meaningful social scientific data, and limited legislative action leave schools and school leaders in the position of enacting and enforcing policy relying on information that is ambiguous and open to mixed interpretation. This investigation evidences a need for quality social science research to inform courts and policymakers about the actual privacy beliefs of modern public-school students and how these beliefs may potentially inform future lawmaking and policy development.
- OU - Dissertations