Re: [MV] Fw: MVPA right to censorship
Sun, 24 Oct 1999 12:16:45 EDT

Free Lesson in Law for our Legal Beagels!

Clearly by any test of the current U.S. law, the MVPA is not restricted from
observing conversation on our chat as it is a public arena and using same
however they wish.

Many of you have reached that conclusion based on just common sense, however
it is actually an issue raised in court on a regular basis. Typically this
involves the legality of a "search and seizure" where a cop has obtain some
sort of incriminating evidence and the defense is trying to suppress that
evidence. The bottom line is does Internet chat in a public chat room enjoy
a reasonable expectation of privacy? The prevailing legal answer is no, not
at this time, unless there was a firewall, special access code or some sort
of filtering method to prevent the general public from observing our
comments. I can also see where chats using encrypted communications is held
to be private, but that's about it.

Next, on the opposite end of this argument, the MVPA has the right (and
sometimes the duty) to restrict access to any of its Internet links or public
domains. In other words, the MVPA board has exclusive rights to censorship
and its only answerable the collective conscience of its membership and
typically such action cannot be overturned or reversed unless by a 2/3rds
vote of the majority, unless writen in your bi-laws otherwise.

The MVPA cannot be forced to include a link, even if it was a past practice
to do so. That's where you bi-laws become important, because they protect
whatever it is that represents the collective views of its memberships.
Never trivialize the opportunity to review and amend your own bi-laws. Food
for thought as we approach another election... jl

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