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Censorship Education Social Networks United Kingdom Your Rights Online

University Networks Block Student Project 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the be-less-creative-next-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A computer science student at University College London put together FitFinder as a bit of a joke — it's been described as a cross between Twitter and personal ads, and it rapidly became very popular. The university took exception to this and started by blocking the site from being accessed on campus. Not content with this, a few weeks later it fined the student £300 and had him take the site down completely. Currently, the site is still offline, although there is a petition with several thousand signatures requesting its return. In the meantime, a site called PhitFinder has appeared, claiming to have no link to the original."
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University Networks Block Student Project

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  • by Neon Aardvark (967388) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:18PM (#32476882) Homepage

    University College London isn't in America.

    Can you see why?

  • University College London isn't in America.

    London isn't necessarily where you think it is.

    London, Ontario, Canada.

    The London Bridge which was sold and shipped from the UK to Arizona.

    London, Ohio

    London, Kentucky.

    London, Arizona

    London, California.

    There are more Londons in the US than in the UK.

  • by jamesbulman (103594) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:39PM (#32477036) Homepage

    A university spokesman said: “UCL does not approve of or condone this site. We therefore advised the student to take the site down, but he declined to do this. UCL has no jurisdiction over the site, as it is not UCL-hosted. We have, however, taken disciplinary action against the student for bringing the college into disrepute and he has been fined.”

    Another triumph for Slashdot accuracy...

  • by canajin56 (660655) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:49PM (#32477092)
    The university isn't hosting it.
  • Re:Typical (Score:5, Informative)

    by canajin56 (660655) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:53PM (#32477116)
    The university isn't hosting it, he is.
  • by jimicus (737525) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:54PM (#32477122)

    From TFA:

    Dean of Welfare (Students), wrote: “Following the serious complaints brought to this institution regarding the contents of the site and your association with it, I find myself having to bring a charge under UCL’s Disciplinary Code of Bringing the College into Disrepute. Therefore I am fining you £300.”

    IANAL but AFAIK private organisations in the UK cannot enforce fines - that's a privilege open exclusively to the government. And the nation's universities are essentially private institutions (albeit receiving heavy state funding).

    Having said that, if the university I went to was any guide they'll probably have something in their rules which states that if you owe them so much as a penny on graduation day, you don't graduate. And though they may not be able to get a judge to force him to pay, I have no idea if he'd be able to get a judge to force them to write off the £300 "fine".

  • by Bjorn_Redtail (848817) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:04PM (#32477180)
    He is hosting it on a proper server. From TFA:

    A university spokesman said: “UCL does not approve of or condone this site. We therefore advised the student to take the site down, but he declined to do this. UCL has no jurisdiction over the site, as it is not UCL-hosted. We have, however, taken disciplinary action against the student for bringing the college into disrepute and he has been fined.”

  • by Jedi Alec (258881) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @06:45PM (#32478730)

    It's their understandable embarrassment over having to have the US save their asses twice in the last century.

    Actually, no. It's the way you guys pissed away every last shred of credibility in the years following 9/11, which is quite an accomplishment. You get attacked, you have the entire civilized world on your side, and within a few years you manage to piss every last one of us off to the extent that saying "we're going to distance ourselves just a wee bit from the US" is a surefire way of grabbing a few more votes.

    I honestly doubt Osama bin Laden could have possibly imagined just how much of a success his attack would turn out to be. He set the opportunity for the US to show the world what it is all about and well, it did.

  • by Garble Snarky (715674) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:03PM (#32478816)
    tried to mod insightful, mouse slipped, posting to revert...
  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Monday June 07, 2010 @09:26AM (#32482814) Journal

    and abandon whatever he already paid in tuition.

    Now there's a thought. Until recently, the UK didn't have tuition fees - so historically Universities might fine students, but the point was the alternative option was to be kicked out. I don't think they'd sue you (unless it was something that you could be sued over - that doesn't seem to apply in this case; I'd like to see what contract he signed that prohibited him from running a website, and even there, it's up to a court to decide if a contract is reasonable, and whether the University has suffered damages).

    But now we live in a world where students are paying thousands of pounds for their tuition. The old model of it being a privilege to be there no longer applies - students are customers paying the University for a service. So the idea of fines suddenly seems ridiculous, unless a University would otherwise have grounds to sue them (i.e., it has suffered damages). Similarly, a student ought to have grounds for appeal (or refunds) if the University kicks them out, after taking the money - a business contract works both ways.

    How does it work in the US, where tuition fees have been around much longer? Do universities fine students for any petty and non-illegal act they don't like?

A holding company is a thing where you hand an accomplice the goods while the policeman searches you.

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