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4/4/2011
08:23 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Wireless Device Guidelines For Federal Courthouses Under Review

If your job involves being in federal courthouses, there could be changes that affect whether or not you will be able to keep your phone on you.

If your job involves being in federal courthouses, there could be changes that affect whether or not you will be able to keep your phone on you.This policy review (PDF) doesn't just involve smartphones, but any device that is capable of instantly posting content to Facebook, Twitter, blogs or any other online site or social network. Since you only need SMS to do this, every cell phone currently in existence qualifies. I suspect there will be no consideration given if your company blocks SMS capabilities for your phone. It also extends to higher level devices like tablets, laptops and I suspect even ereaders since they have rudimentary online capabilities.

There are a number of reasons the rules are being updated. Security is obviously at the top of the list. In extreme cases, a phone can be turned into a weapon, a remotely operated weapon, with explosive potential. While they currently scan for this in federal buildings, there is always the risk one will slip through or a new technology not being scanned for could be developed.

There are downsides to this that move just beyond the inconvenience of people keeping up with emails or killing time waiting for their turn in the courtroom. Attorneys use them to contact their office and other people related to a case during breaks. Twenty years ago, they could just go to a pay phone and do the same thing. Today, that isn't possible as pay phones are an endangered species.

There are dozens of other reasons for and against a change in the current policy. If you visit a federal courthouse you might want to check on the proposed rules and see what could affect the way you work.

At this point, the committee of the policy-making Judicial Conference of the United States is just discussing this. There is no indication when or how many of the ideas considered would be enacted.

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