Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Legally web2.0

UPDATE : the notes from the sessions are here : http://www.jisclegal.ac.uk/Web2/

A JISC legal presentation last week in B'ham regarding the legalities of offering web 2.0 services to staff & students, scared us stiff. It was nearly enough to put me off recommending it [web 2.0 software] to anyone. There were some proper horror stories of people misusing the technology. Enthusiastic but ill informed dabblers of said technology were the main culprits. Mind you, I made a faux pas recently when I copied a private email conversation to a wiki. I forgot that even tho' the wiki page was "hidden", Google could still spider it, and therefore cache it. The page contents could be googled! And it happened. Luckily for me the offending text was fairly harmless, but acute embarrassment followed. Sorry again Lis. Note to self, emails are private, and wikis are searchable! My story paled into insignificance when we learned that a lecturer used a wiki to get students to recount stories of personal abuse. These highly personal stories were supposed to be hidden, but were in fact very public on an open wiki. Scary stuff. The same goes for your facebook profile and flickr photos, all set as public as default. Be warned, identity theft is rife.

The morning session was very interesting with two specialist lawyers giving case study examples and ideas to pursue. They rounded the session off by summarising the legal aspects to consider of different web 2.0 platforms;


  • Use behind firewall is preferable – but again consider appropriateness (see stories above)
  • Consider DDA/ Privacy – confidentiality – consider the implications of other peoples stuff on the web
  • Ensure fairness - guides & protocols in place for all users, inclusion/fairness issues
  • Limit editing & viewing rights

Facebook types:

  • Again is it appropriate for use
  • Privacy settings are very open – privacy issues
  • Terms of use in place
  • Deletion rights, specified upfront
  • Confidentiality – it's set to share as open - Flickr & myspace are examples . Migth be password protected – but google can see them in Google cache.
  • Use an internal closed environment – behind firewall


  • Ensure accessible Applications
  • Accessibility 2.0 guidelines 2007
  • BSI PAS 78 Web Accessibility Standards have some really good guidelines
  • DRC code of practice (equality & human rights commission) real world examples of issues you could face in education – very sensible
  • Ensure you have adequate policies & protocols in place

Student guidelines:

  • Terms of use for web 2.0 - Edinburgh Uni has good terms – put these in place in handbooks & website
  • Robust privacy & Acceptable usage Policies (AuP) in place
  • Inform students & staff regularly of terms
  • Restrict access to offenders
  • Must be able to delete offending content
  • Mindset of info is all free to use – no one owns stuff – social tools are open for all to use. It's not just an IT or HR issue – this flows through all organisation.


  • Develop a central organizational policy for web 2.0 - Uni of Bradford is a good exemplar – NO ad hoc projects by the enthusiastic dabbler. Remember a little knowledge is dangerous!
  • Conduct a privacy impact assessment
  • DDA compliance – new laws out recently
  • Compliance with all policies – staff & IT policy need to be covered
  • Intellectual Property Right (IPR) policies in place
  • Information & training for staff – must be ongoing to ensure awareness
  • Involvement of knowledge management experts

There is also a checklist provided by JISC legal, to support these workshops. It's a worthwhile read if you are thinking of using these tools. I was assured that these resources would be online following the events. So have a look round early Nov '08 on the JISC legal website.

Watch this video and presentation on developing a web 2.0 strategy, it may help your institution embed web 2.0 tools alongside traditional VLEs?

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