Currently, teachers in schools and colleges have the ability to confiscate mobile phones where necessary, but cannot look at the content they contain.
The new law, to be debated next week by Parliament will give school headmasters the ability to search, and also delete content from the phones.
The laws have been proposed as a way of discovering evidence of cyber bullying where people harass others via means of text messages. It is also hoped that the move may clamp down on sharing videos of attacks – so-called happy slapping – that take place outside school.
The changes mirror those recently passed in parts of the USA, where laws allowing police to look inside items found on a person were extended to include the contents of mobile phones, when found on a suspect.
However, the civil-rights group, Liberty condemned the move as being proportionate for terrorism investigations, not breaches of school rules.
According to spokesman for the Department for Education, this is a power not a duty – it will be down teachers to use their professional judgment when to act. Pupils have the right to go to school without being bullied and parents have the right to expect their children to be safe. The laws apply to England only – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own laws.
BT has suffered a setback as the telecoms regulator Ofcom proposed cuts in the price of its wholesale products. Ofcom wants BT to reduce the price of its wholesale broadband products in order to improve internet access in rural areas.
The regulator also drew a lower-than-expected estimate of BT’s cost of capital the assumption of what it costs BT to fund its business. According to analysts, it could cut BT’s earnings by up to 8%.
Ofcom is aiming to ensure that broadband prices fall for consumers in rural areas and, potentially, to increase download speeds available to them. To achieve this, it is proposing that BT should cut the price of wholesale broadband products in parts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, together with certain English rural areas.
These areas where BT is the sole provider of wholesale broadband services: mainly places not covered by infrastructure owned by Virgin Media, TalkTalk or British Sky Broadcasting. In those areas, Ofcom is proposing annual cuts in the price of BT’s wholesale broadband products of between 11% and 15% over the next three years, after inflation.
Ofcom’s calculations of its price controls for BT are partly based on its estimate of the company’s cost of capital.
It proposed a lower cost of capital for BT Openreach, the subsidiary that provides the company’s rivals with access to its fixed-line connections running to homes and offices.
According to BT, Ofcom’s proposed cost of capital for BT Openreach could reduce annual wholesale revenue by low tens of millions of pounds. It added that the regulator’s price controls for its wholesale broadband products should strike the right balance between control and incentives to invest in rural areas.
The head of the judiciary in England and Wales have ruled that there is no ban on using Twitter in court.
According to Lord Chief Justice Igor Judge, the use of unobtrusive, hand held, virtually silent equipment to give live text updates was unlikely to interfere with the administration of justice.
Among the traditions of British justice alongside lawyers’ black robes and horsehair wigs, are strict restrictions on communications. Cameras and recording equipment are banned, phones are usually prohibited, and even courts artists are barred from sketching in the courtroom â€” they must make notes and then go outside to draw.
Twitter has been a gray area. Last week a judge allowed journalists to tweet from a bail hearing for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange â€” the first time it had been expressly permitted. But two days later the judge at another hearing for Assange stated tweeting was barred.
According to the chief justice, there was no legal prohibition on using a mobile phone, small laptop or similar piece of equipment, solely in order to make live text-based communications of the proceedings â€” giving journalists a green light to tweet, text or liveblog from hearings. But he added users would have to seek the judge’s permission first, and this could be refused in criminal trials if there was a risk that information posted on Twitter might influence witnesses or jurors. Final rules would be issued after a consultation process.
Fast-changing technology is challenging judicial custom around the world.
U.S. federal courts tell jurors to avoid Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, but deciding whether journalists can tweet or blog from court has generally been left up to judges. Relatively few federal courts have embraced Twitter, although last year a federal judge in Kansas allowed a reporter to use the microblogging service to provide updates from a gang trial.