Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Student-Athlete Suspended From NCAA FCS Playoffs For a Re-Tweet

The NCAA does not have an official social media policy for its members. Despite the lack of a social media policy, the NCAA suspended Lehigh University's Ryan Spadola who was the football team's top wide receiver from a playoff game for retweeting an alleged inappropriate message. This suspension may have harmed Lehigh's chances of winning the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision since Lehigh lost the game that Spadola was banned from.

Playing collegiate sports is privilege and not a right. Ryan Spadola apologized for the tweet and appeared contrite over his actions. However, the NCAA still made an example out of him. This teachable moment has turned into a situation that may have major legal ramifications in the future for similar situations. What if instead of retweeting an alleged racial slur Spadola provided his opinion about the President of the United States and the NCAA disagreed with his Tweet? Would Spadola have been banned from the playoffs?

The NCAA must tread very carefully in the social media space because its actions may open itself and/or its members to massive legal liability that may not be anticipated. Those who advocate that student-athletes be mandated to turn over their private social media user names and passwords and/or allow schools access to students' private electronic content, and/or install spying software onto students' personal electronic devices may be uninformed of the law and the public policy implications. Ohio's Supreme Court ruled almost 2 years ago that while under Ohio's jurisdiction a warrantless search of electronic devices is barred in most situations. The New York Times subsequently wrote an editorial that stated that this should be the law throughout the country.

To learn more about these issues you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.

Copyright 2011 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.

Cleveland's Social Media Criminal Law May Affect Terry Stop and Frisks

I have previously discussed Cleveland's prior misguided attempts to create ambiguous social media law. Cleveland has finally passed a law that may criminalize social media. This new ordinance (see page 25, sections 1392-11, 1393-11 and 1394-11) that allegedly is aimed at trying to curb flash mobs is very troubling and may create unanticipated problems that were not envisioned by its sponsors.

Will Cleveland police officers during a Terry Stop and Frisk check to see if someone is carrying a digital weapon (personal electronic device) instead of a physical weapon (gun or a knife)? Will this new ordinance change the Stop and Frisk procedures in Cleveland? Was this question even imagined by those who voted in favor of this ordinance?

Fortunately for those who live and/or visit Cleveland, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled a couple years ago that while under Ohio's jurisdiction people have an expectation of privacy regarding the content on their cell phones. Therefore, the potential for abuse of this new ordinance may be less than what it may have been had the Ohio Supreme Court not been so enlightened.

As I previously stated, this law is vague and will only create more problems than it will solve. The tremendous disconnect between social media and government policy continues.

To learn more about these issues you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.

Copyright 2011 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.