TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Schools Prohibit Personal E-mail Sites

Re: Schools Prohibit Personal E-mail Sites

Robert Bonomi (
Thu, 09 Jun 2005 00:24:02 -0000

In article <>,
<> wrote:

> Robert Bonomi wrote:

>> In private industry, and employer can allow use of company property
>> for non-work activities by employees -- e.g. using the copy machine to
>> run off flyeres for a local club activity.
>> In a federal government agency, if an employee does that it they are
>> comitting a *crime* -- one with _prison time_ attached to it.

> There are state government agencies where that is NOT that case.

Nearly every State in the Union, has a statute that reads almost
identically to 18 USC 641. In governmental employ (at whatever level)
one would be a fool to assume that such a prohibition did not exist --
absent exhaustive research into the statutes and/or ordinances
covering that particular jurisdiction.

I, admittedly, have not done an exhaustive search, but in every
jurisdiction where I have had occasion to check, such a prohibition
_was_ enshrined in law.

> There are private sector units that mirror the Fed policy you state
> above.

So? The fact that they choose to do so, does not mean that they are
_required_ do do so.

For Feds, it is -not- "policy", it is the _law_. And *that* law (18
USC 641) does _not_ apply to any private employment
situation. Regardless of what the employer's policies might be.

A private employer _cannot_ avail themselves of that law, in the event
of employee misfeasance. They may be able to avail themselves of
municipal or state law, regarding 'petty theft', In general, however,
the penalties for that are generally an order of magnitude less than
that for 18 USC 641.

> I would be extremely surprised if people were sent to prison solely
> for personal use of a federal copier machine.

I've sat in a federal courtroom, and witnessed sentencing for an 18
USC 641 violation. It wasn't a single egregious act, but an ongoing
series of really 'little' things. After having been reminded by
management "not to". The idjit had a side-line personal business, and
was doing stuff for it at the office, after hours -- writing
correspondence, and printing it out, doing estimates in a
spread-sheet, a little bit of photo-copying, etc.

> However, some private firms are very fussy about employee theft and
> have criminally charged their employees.

Again, you miss the fundamental point. A private employer _can_ allow
such private use. A Federal (nor in many states) agency employer

The fact that _some_ private employers do not do so does not invalidate
the difference.

"Are not forbidden to" is an *entirely* different thing from "are not
allowed to". Even if specific implementations under the two different
sets of 'rules' happen to be similar.

>> I can cite a Supreme Court ruling expressly invalidating a
>> governmental unit 'dress code' item that forbade the wearing of
>> certain items of apparel.

> Virtually every government organization I know has a dress code. You
> may be referring to very narrow situations. (There's a case in the
> NYC subway system over wearing a religious turban and hat badge. It's
> ONE case out of 50,000 employees).

393 U.S. 503 (1969)

>> An organization in 'private industry' would have had *NO* problem
>> enforcing that particular dress-code item..

> Actually, in some cases private employers have gotten into trouble on
> some dress code requirements.

In the above-mentioned situation, I can state as fact that private
employers banning exactly the same apparel did *NOT* have any
problems. One of the plaintiffs in the above-mentioned case actually
got _fired_ from a private-industry job at the same time that case
was proceeding. For wearing the specific item of apparel -- after
having been instructed not to -- that was the subject of the lawsuit.

>> *HOW* you said those things is what gets the summons for "disorderly
>> CONDUCT". It is the _conduect_ that is the problem, not the language.

>>> If I threaten to kill you,
>>> you can have me arrested and convicted for making threats.

>> You're obviously ignorant of the existing 'case law' on *that* point.
>> With the exception of a remark of that nature about the President of
>> the United States, one cannot be charged/convicted *just* for making
>> such a remark.

> If what you say is true, there's a lot of people wrongly in trouble
> and fined or even jailed by local courts for making terroristic
> threats. The "how" was irrelevent, it was the threat that counts.
> Whether it was shouted or whispered, or discretely written on a piece
> of paper didn't matter. Indeed, some of the quietest threats are
> treated the most seriously.

What I said _is _true. "Words alone" do *NOT* constitute a threat.
There are other elements that _must_ be present before a speaking or a
writing is a threat.

BTW, My claim was that "how" a thing is said is a primary element of a
"disorderly conduct" charge.

"How" you came to conclude that it is relevant to a charge of 'making
threats', I do not follow.

If it is not obvious to you, different laws (and different crimes)
have different 'required elements' as to what constitutes a violation.
Prosecution for "making threats" is an *entirely* different matter,
with entirely different component requirements than 'disorderly

> [rest snipped]

> I am not lawyer nor claim to be a legal expert. However, I have quite
> a number of years out there and have seen quite a few things over and
> over again.

> Basically, I do not agree with your post. My real issue on
> disagreement is not on case law but rather actual practice.

Any time you start asserting claims about how someone/something is
required or forbidden to act, that _is_ the realm of law.

Actual practice -- how people/organizations 'do' or 'do not' act, is a
significantly different set of boundaries.

What "is" allowed is considerably more restrictive than what 'can be'
allowed. What "is not" allowed is much more restrictive than what
'cannot be' allowed. That which 'is allowed' is often more
restrictive than 'that which is not forbidden'. That which 'is not
allowed' is often *much* more restrictive than 'that which is not

*ALL* of our differences of opinion come from your co-mingling of
those distinct classifications.

> On some of your arguments, frankly, you seem to be splitting hairs.

That, kiddo, *IS* the way the law works. Get used to it.

If you want to assert what is required/forbidden by law, you have to
get the details right.

> That does not resolve the question in terms of real life practice.

> The reality is that there are many laws that are not enforced and
> people get away with stuff. Likewise, we have theorectically rights
> that we can't effectively exercise because it would be too expensive
> or time-consuming to fight for them. One of the things a good lawyer
> does is advise on the reality of a particular situation. "Yes, you're
> absolutely right but to fight them will cost $100,000 in legal fees."

> Stating what is on paper seriously misses the issue. Actual practice
> is what counts.

> (If I may point out, in another discussion on Autovon phones, you said
> those phones were "standard". There may be a piece of paper saying
> just that, but the vast majority of Touch Tone phones out there do not
> comply with that standard because they don't have the fourth column.
> Indeed, there are a lot of official technical standards out there that
> are basically ignored and unwritten practices that are essentially
> standard.)

Since you bring it up. I will repeat that the *FULL* standard _does_
specifies a 4x4 matrix of frequency pairs.

The Autovon phones were 100% compliant with the specifications in the

The 'vast majority' of Touch-Tone phones in existence for the
'civilian' (shall we say) market do not implement the _full_ standard,
They are, none the less "standards-compliant", as a "subset
implementation", which is recognized and allowed for in the standard.

And, since you have chosen to bring it up, your prior assertation
about the Arsenal having "Autovon" phones that were pulse-dial, behind
a cord-board switchboard is utter cr*p. The actual Autovon system was
'4-wire' -- with outgoing audio on a _separate_ wire-pair from
incoming audio. This 4-wire architecture was carried all the way
through to the telephone sets. For sets that were used both for PSTN
and Autovon, there _was_ a hybrid in the phone, for PSTN call use --
disconnected and bypassed, when an Autovon call was made.

> FWIW, in a previous discussion it was insisted certain estate legal
> certifications were required.

You wouldn't want to try to _prove_ that statement, would you?

I said that certain certifications were the only thing that parties
were *required* _to_accept_.

If you offer 'something else', they _may_ accept it, or they MAY NOT.

And, if they do not accept it, "tough cookies" applies. You cannot
force them to accept that 'inadequate documentation'. You have to go
get 'the real thing'.

The full-blown works are not always 'necessary', they are, however
_guaranteed_ to be 'sufficient'.

> I was just working with some one on
> that and the cited certifications were not required to deal with an
> external agency to obtain a refund. Again, what is said on paper is
> not always reality.

"Reality' is in the details. What 'may' work in some situations is
unrelated to what is guaranteed to work in *all* situations. If, as
in the case of the ISP and the deceased soldier, the party refuses to
accept any 'lesser standerd', there is nothing that one can do, but
provide the court order. As that soldiers kin did, and which was then

Now, go back and review what I _actually_ said on that subject.

Which was that *IF* the external agency demands 'proof', of the right
to access the property of another, that the only document that they
are *required* to accept is the order from the probate court. They
may _choose_ to accept some 'lesser standard', but they are *not*
_required_ to accept anything short of the court order of

As with *any* legal mater, the precise details of the specific
situation make _all_the_difference_in_the_world_. Accessing a bank
account established 'with right of survivorship' is fairly trivial.
Accessing a safety-deposit box, where no such provision had been made,
and no alternate signatory was on record, can be a much different
story. Especially if you don't have the key in hand.

_In_the_event_ that an external agency 'refuses to accept' whatever
'lesser standard' documentation you provide, you are simply SOL until
you get the 'real thing'. There is no way, practically, *or* legally,
to force them to accept the 'inadequate' documentation offered.

Note that just because the 'external agency' is required to accept a
thing as proof, does not mean that _you_ are required to present that
thing. If they will accept a 'lesser standard', well and good. IF
they refuse to do so, you have no alternative, but to present the
'real thing'.

> Anyone with a legal question should consult a competent reputable
> attorney. (How to find one that is competent? Tough to say.)

Referrals from those you know who have been in 'like' situations is a
good start.

A referral from a competent (in other areas) attorney is also a good

If you don't know any competent attorneys yourself, and if you don't
know people who have been in 'like situations', then you start looking
for people you know, who know a competent attorney. And ask them for
a referral in the area you have need.

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