What you should be aware of
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
For those of you unfamiliar with the recent incident regarding Leigh Anne Arthur, a South Carolina high school teacher, I’ll summarize the events quickly. Arthur was teaching a class when she stepped out of the room for a moment. In her absence, one of her students went to her desk and began going through her cell phone. Apparently, the student found a compromising photo that Arthur had taken for her husband, and then he sent it to himself and posted it on social media. After Arthur returned, the student is quoted as saying “…your day of reckoning is coming.” Shortly after this, Arthur was forced to resign by the school superintendent.
Normally, we would expect that this story would end here—I mean, let’s be honest, the education system doesn’t really have the best track record when it comes to treating its teachers well.
However, recent changes in privacy laws for both the United States and Canada have sought to end this type of victim blaming.
With cell phones quickly becoming a staple in almost everyone’s everyday life, and the recent recognition for various online crimes such as cyberbullying and identity theft, the government thought it prudent to offer some sort of protection regarding the personal details available on your phone.
By law, any information or content accessed on your phone without your permission now counts as an invasion of privacy and is, by definition, illegal. This is also a good thing to keep in mind for you. If you do not have express permission from the mobile device’s owner to access it, no matter if it is password protected or not, you can be brought up on felony charges, as well as putting yourself at risk of being sued by the device’s owner for invasion of privacy.
In 2013, Justice Thomas Cromwell stated: “I do not distinguish, for the purposes of prior authorization, the computers from the cellular telephone in issue here. Although historically cellular phones were far more restricted than computers in terms of the amount and kind of information that they could store, present day phones have capacities that are, for our purposes, equivalent to those of computers…” after the Canadian Supreme Court amended its privacy laws to cover both personal/home computers and mobile phones.
The result? Well, Arthur’s student is facing criminal charges ranging from computer crimes to aggravated voyeurism, which are separate from the charges he’ll be facing if Leigh Anne Arthur decides to pursue legal action.