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Florida: Recording Professors

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As this is being written, a Republican bill has been passed in Florida that would allow students to record lectures without the professors’ consent. The bill also encourages students to report lectures they think are stifling “viewpoint diversity” on campuses. Republicans have claimed that this bill is intended as protection against “Marxist professors and students.” When it comes to recording, Florida is a two-party consent state. Except in cases where the parties to communication do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy (such as public spaces), the consent of all parties is required to (legally) make such recordings. The bill thus seems to imply that classrooms are not currently considered public spaces under the  existing law (otherwise that aspect of the law would be pointless)—but one could certainly contend that a classroom affords no expectation of privacy. As a side issue, there is also the interesting question of whether a lecture should be considered analogous to a commercial public performance (like a play, concert or professional sporting event). But this is another matter for another time. Another aspect of the bill is that all of Florida’s state funded postsecondary schools are required to complete an annual survey of faculty and students. This survey is intended to determine the protection afforded to intellectual freedoms on campus. The bill is also intended to shield students from attempts to restrict their “access to, or observation of, ideas and opinions that they may find uncomfortable, unwelcome, disagreeable, or offensive.” These expressive activities include the content of lectures and “all forms of peaceful assembly, protests and speeches.” This bill raises many concerns, one of which is whether it is needed. Another is whether it is ethical. Republicans typically claim to favor small government. I also profess to favor minimal government and have argued in other essays that the state should restrict its laws to cases in which the. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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