posted Nov 10, 2000

NH Court Rules School District Must Release Net Records
Privacy from Companies
11/10/2000; 10:25:02 AM

'In what could be a landmark decision in the area of online privacy rights, a New Hampshire court granted the father of a public school student the right to obtain Internet usage records of all students who used computers and Web access supplied by the school district. The district was also ordered not to withhold records that may be requested in the future and was forced to pay plaintiff's attorney's fees.'

I put this here mostly because some people think this is a landmark decision. Personally, I disagree. This is a fairly normal Freedom of Information Act information request. The key paragraph is this:

'On the third issue, whether or not the IHLF was exempt from production under state law, the district attempted three sub-arguments, each of which were denied by the Court. Judge Abramson found that the district could use an inexpensive "write script" to produce a record without revealing confidential information, such as an individual student's name, user name or password, therefore the documents were not exempt. Similarly, the Court found that the IHLF could not be defined as "personal records of students," nor could they be construed as having the same legal protection as "library user" files, because the records could be produced with confidential information redacted.'

The identifying information will not be turned over (barring a technical flub-up). It's just a list of what sites were visited, not who visited them or when. This sort of thing happens in the non-Internet domain happens routinely, and the FoI Act has been a good thing overall. The Internet seems to blind the justice system in so many other ways, it's a relief to see it get it right for once.

 

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