Do Your Internet Safety Policies Address the Education of Minors?

Although July 1, 2012 is less than one month away, there is still time to confirm whether your educational institution is in compliance with the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Report and Order, released August 11, 2011. Pursuant to the FCC Report and Order, "Beginning July 1, 2012, schools’ Internet safety policies must provide for educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response."

While most educational institutions likely already have policies in place for educating minors about online conduct and cyberbullying in order to comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and to pursue E-rate funds, it would be an excellent time to reexamine those policies, confirm they address online behavior and cyberbullying, and determine whether the policies are effective. In other words, are students actually learning about appropriate online behavior and cyberbullying?

While the FCC does not require effective Internet safety policies or address their implementation, it is in the best interest of each educational institution to ensure that students are, in fact, learning about safe, ethical, and legal technology use. Sound policies are the first step, but it is also important to ensure that the policies are being followed and are effective. If your educational institution has not yet incorporated student education into its Internet safety policies, now is the time. For further information about CIPA or other technology-related statutes or case law, contact your legal counsel.

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