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Ask Carl Kadie About Censorship and Privacy at Colleges 221

We've received a lot of inquiries recently about computer policies at various colleges and universities - usually the policy goes something like: "Anything you do or say on this network is ours, we own it, we can read your email, we can delete you, too bad. All your data are belong to us." Oddly enough, these sorts of policies are in place even at schools that would never dream of snooping on students' postal mail or the books they read at the library. Carl Kadie has been EFF's longest-serving volunteer, doing work for the past ten years in the area of academic freedom and computers. He's written two book chapters on the issue and helped examine, critique and improve the usage policies at many universities. Post below any questions you have on computers and academic freedom - maybe your school has a particularly bad policy, maybe you just have a general question - and we'll pick the best ones and forward them to him for a response.
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Ask Carl Kadie About Censorship and Privacy at Colleges

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  • As i know universities in the US, they also own the postal office within campus grounds.

    Since both use a medium owned by the university, and both are 'private communication', does this mean they also have the right to read your private (snail mail) letters?

    -- Chris Chabot
    "I dont suffer from insanity, i enjoy every minute of it!"
  • All e-mail, phone calls, and video monitoring are now standard for most companies, so why not universities and colleges? Get use to it, privacy is no longer an issue.


  • is the best/most effective argument to get non-techie types to understand that the computer/internet is just another form of media and should be treated just like we would books/video/magazines?
  • by Bob McCown ( 8411 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @10:38AM (#432262)
    The answer to this is no, because federal law prohibits them from opening your mail, but there are no laws reguarding your email. Thats the problem. Email spread has outpaced the government's ability to regulate the delivery of it....
  • by aitala ( 111068 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @10:38AM (#432263) Homepage
    I am the webmaster for a medium sized Univesity in the South. While our IT department does an excellent job supporting the University, we face some serious staff and available technology issues.

    How would you suggest balancing the privacy needs of a University community, the security issues created by such a diverse group, the issue of academic freedom, and the fact that college IT departments have serious staff/load/pay/tech issues?

  • Here, they have everyone sign into the Academic Computing labs (the labs in engineering are unmonitored). Then they assign you to a particular computer. This is so they can give the logs to law enforcement personel/so forth.

    Ironically, they don't have you log in with a unique username/password or swipe or anything in that nature. No offense to many of the students here, but they complain that most of the system is too hard to use as it is anyway, many would probably complain.

    Also ironic, the system doesn't use static IPs... Which makes it a real bitch to trace through the logs anyways.

  • I spemd time chatting about hardware designs. I have a responsibility to not one company but a whole consortium to not disclose the ideas we work on.

    How does that work with Network Use Policies?
  • I completely understand the need for privacy, especially for college students who have a reputation of trading MP3's, warez, and other illegal files. In some schools around the country, this warez trading problem is so severe that students who have a legitimate need for bandwidth are having trouble connecting to sites hosted outside of the school's network. Clearly, something needs to be done to verify that students who are using their school's bandwidth are using it for legal and reasonable purposes. Most major companies have already implemented a proxy server/packet sniffer monitoring solution to cut down on illegal usage.

    I don't see this as a violation of a user's rights or of a user's privacy. The simple truth is, it's not your bandwidth in the first place. If you're going to use a network provided to you by an educational institution or business, you must adhere to their rules and restrictions. Don't like it? Go out and pay for your own bandwidth.

  • We can complain all day about how terrible schools' policies regarding their networks and the internet may be, but what can we do about it? How can we help universities realize that such policies are un-american? As IT professionals, and members of society as a whole, how can we help to remove the fear of the internet that produce such big-brotherish ideas?

  • by Zachary DeAquila ( 31195 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @10:41AM (#432268) Homepage
    What responsibilities do universiies incur when they have such overbroad AUPs and reserve such powers for themselves? What if, in their browsing through my data, they delete or destroy important information (thesis data or papers or somesuch)? Are they liable for it? What if they 'leak' damaging data either unknowingly or through misunderstanding? Can they be held responsible?

    I'm afraid that I know the answers to all these questions and am even more afraid of those answers. So what can be done about it beyond the standard SSH and PGP rhetoric ? Is there a way to make them take responsibility for these actions, preferably a heavy enough responsibility to discourage them from wanting to take these actions in the first place?


  • "Anything you do or say on this network is ours, we own it, we can read your email, we can delete you, too bad. All your data are belong to us."

    Doesn't that mean that they are partly responsible for the rampant piracy that goes on within the residential networks?

    Just a thought...

  • by Pacer ( 153176 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @10:43AM (#432270) Homepage Journal
    I lived for two years in University residence and, frankly, my college didn't seem to have much respect for the privacy of students in any regard: all mail came through University-owned mailboxes, and packages had to be picked up at the dormitory desk, staffed by hall RAs -- students with a significant disciplinary function. All telephone service went through the university switchboard. Your room could be searched, by university staff or by police, without your permission and without any sort of warrant. Most tenant rights were violated (for instance, eviction with two weeks' notice any time of year), and now the university informs students' parents of on-campus alcohol or disciplinary violations (these are adults whose academic transcripts cannot be released to parents without a signed waiver).

    It is not any surprise to me that fascist user agreements are in place concerning electronic media in light of the general control-oriented attitude of many universities towards their on-campus student populations. Perhaps the problem runs deeper than simple technophobia?

  • Umm, pardon me, but my university has us pony up $115 for 8 months on the residence internet system. The e-mail is free, but you don't get a choice about using it or not, as a lot of course info comes through that account so you have to use it for at least some things. Its not to high speed, is specially tweaked to have FTP, Napster, and other "low priority" communications run especially slowly (avg 1k/sec) and has a 500 meg/week dl cap. I think that's a reasonable deal, actually, that part makes sense, they're trying to allocate their limited bandwidth properly. I would have no problem with this if it weren't for the usual evil privacy policy.

    I think you'll find many less technically obsessed universities will have similar plans.
  • Hmmm..seems to me that I paid tuition when I was in college so the internet access WAS NOT FREE! Most colleges seem to forget that students are paying customers.
  • I do research within a consortium of developers and I am, under NDA, responsible for my part in keeping those discussions private.

    I paid $400+ for 100Mbit access.

    Schools give you free network access the same way department stores hike up prices and then call it a sale.
  • of course, unless your email is encrypted, anyone in its path of transmission can read it... there's no step of opening the envelope, you just have to glance in its direction. I think that's one reason that there's been no legistlation again reading your email.


  • I'd say the opposite. Its quite hard to prevent for instance the Snailmail company to read your mails, postcards and so. But with electonic communications you have the possiblity of encrypting your messages, very easy. So instead of saying that privacy is no longer an issue, id say its now becoming one. Its up to you to write your letters on a postcard, or to put it in a safe and send it. Just that encryption is a bit cheaper then sending a big safe :-)
  • by Chris Brewer ( 66818 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @10:44AM (#432276) Journal
    In your opinion, is there any difference between what a student does on the campus network using college owned computers and an employee using the corporate network using the company's computers with regard to who owns the data?
  • Umm, yes, but your paying to be at university.... you're the customer, and they're treating you like an employee.
  • When tuition at private universities is approaching $30K per year, it's kind of hard to call this "free." Students are not given an option not to subsidize these networks, either. And pretending that there is a free market in education is so stupid, it's obvious you didn't go to one of the better schools.

    They have every right to complain. Furthermore, as a taxpayer, my taxes go to subsidize those schools and those tuitions, and I don't like it, I have every right to whine and complain until your ears bleed.

    The AC mentality: anyone who doesn't like anything exactly the way it is should be ridiculed and mocked. That's why you are called cowards. Real people stand and fight for their beliefs instead of accepting everything like sheep taking it from the farmer.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • by dwbryson ( 104783 ) <<gro.kcapkcabotpyrc> <ta> <xetum>> on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @10:45AM (#432279) Journal
    Carl- I have fought a battle at my college over Linux being on the network. I told the UTS( Univeristy Technology Services ) that I was a big advocate of Linux and was starting up a Linux User Group on campus. But first I wanted their approval. They swiftly told me that, "You can absolutly not encourage the use of Linux on OUR network, and you should be lucky that we don't ban it on campus." I was completely uphauled by this, and so promptly turned around and tried to get as many people interested as I could in Linux. And eventually started my own LUG. Do they have a right to tell me what OS I can use on their network? They of course support windows, and allow Mac's, but flat out tell me I can't have linux on their network. Do you have any suggestions on what rights I as a user have?
  • Erhm, MP3s aren't illegal. Distributing MP3s that happen to contain copyrighted audio is illegal. It's the act of distribution that's illegal, not the file format or even the songs themselves.

    Finally, saying it's not the student's bandwidth isn't really fair. After all, where do you think the money comes from to pay for the bandwidth? That's right, the students.
  • I pay the school for services, I am the one who should decide their purpose.

    Education is a business. Education should never be an institution. It only becomes a farce if it does.
  • by CU-Ballistic ( 248908 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @10:46AM (#432282) Homepage
    I attend a rather well-known University in the South. Of course, they have the requisite "we own you and your data" policy. They state in very explicit terms that they have the right, at any time, to search and confiscate my computer, hard drives, and other media. They say that they also have the right to monitor network traffic, and disable any account which is exhibiting "unusual or excessive" activity. This all seems incredibly arbitrary to me, and worries me very much. My question to you is: Do I have any legal recourse? My main quarrel is that as a first-year student, I am forced to live on campus, and many classes require work to be submitted electronically. Since I am unable to "opt-out" of their heavy-handed policy, do I have any legal recourse if I were to encounter a search-and-seizure situation with the Administration here?
  • I go to school in Boston and recently was told in class that a kid managed to crack his way into some of the NSA's computers. The NSA asked my University for logs of the users network use and the school produced detailed logs going back to when he registered his computer for network use. Pretty scary that the school would actually record all our network use. Obviously not the packets themselves, but hosts the kid connected to and so on. Scared me pretty good.
    I don't think, therefore I'm not...
  • I'm pretty sure that the University Of Michigan in Ann Arbor respects privacy.

    The one thing I know they do log is who's logged on to which computer when. so don't think about sending anonymous, threatening, mail to a prof or anyone. i don't think they log all email.

    Also, they let you run servers provided you supplied in creating the content you server.

    When it comes to writing code for class, you own the code, not them.

    They seem to "get it" across the board.

  • Many universities also forbid using their network resources for business-related activities. (I think this is an incredibly counterproductive policy for both the university and the students, but it's often in the contracts.)

  • Corporations rip you off by paying you for hours not for work done.

    same with colleges.

  • Umm, "Free"!?!?!

    It's paid for in the Tuition. Or did you think University was free?

    Oh, and alot of University's access sucks ass nowadays. Yeah, in 1991 when it was installed, it was l33t high speed, but hardly any more.

    Of course, I'm only speaking from my university, but their access & their network both suck horrible ass - only thier email is remotely reliable.

    The thing is, 6 years ago, that level of access kicked ass.

    I honestly think that the whole "we give you free access, so you have to do everything we say" is a bullshit argument. Most students nowadays have thier own email accounts (hotmail or otherwise), and half of the compsci students I've talked to have cable. The thing is, is that they are forced by the university to use the university account to converse with thier profs - hardly anything is sent to external emails.

    So, in my case, anyway, the argument has turned into "we give you a mediocre email account, and an unusably crappy dial up account, and shitty network access while on campus, and force you to use it do communicate with your professors, and everything you do on it are belong to us" .

    Sorry if that doesn't exactly sound like they're bending over backwards.

  • I paid $400 for that bandwidth. Get real.
  • by Saint Nobody ( 21391 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @10:50AM (#432289) Homepage Journal

    Personally, i think that WPI [] has a pretty good AUP [], (which is not to say i haven't had problems with netops regarding a few violations, only one of which i was actually responsible for.) it doesn't say that they can read our email personal files and other miscellany, and it requires us not to go poking around. However, it doesn't say that they can't.

    how do you feel about policies like that? It doesn't guarantee our privacy, but it doesn't infringe on it either. Is lack of a guarantee an implicit infringement?

  • Actually I believe that's a videogame mangled-English reference and didn't originate from Jeff K.'s pea-sized brain. Kinda like the perennial fave "A Winner Is You".
  • Oddly enough, these sorts of policies are in place even at schools that would never dream of snooping on students' postal mail or the books they read at the library.

    Don't be an ass. AFAIK, USPS service is strictly controlled by the federal gov't. There are strong limitations on what local post offices can and cannot do with your mail, no matter where it is or who is handling it. I'm pretty sure that your college couldn't (legally) snoop your mail even if they wanted to - no matter if they have access to it or even handle it.

    As far as controlling your library usage - duh! The library is a college asset, and presumably the books in it are already controlled by the library. If they don't want you reading something, they simply don't have to put it on the shelves. Furthermore, they already monitor what you do read - they know which books are late and who had them last, don't they?

    In short, they don't snoop your snail mail because they can't. They could snoop your library usage, but probably don't need to, since they control the available content already.

  • by bmasel ( 129946 ) <<ten.sdt> <ta> <lesamb>> on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @10:52AM (#432292) Journal
    1) Public Universities are in general more constrained than Private institutions in regulating speech, under the 1st Amendment, and in some cases further restrained by rulings under State Constitutions' free speech clauses.

    To what extent does this make "It's their hardare" arguments vulnerable?

    2) Do State or Federal infrastructure grants to privte Universities make their Net facilities Public Fora?

  • by Pxtl ( 151020 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @10:53AM (#432293) Homepage
    At my university, you connect through the university phone system which makes dial-up impossible, and they don't let you use cable-modems. This neighborhood lacks any DSL or anything like that, so in other words, if you're on res, its Resnet or do without. As a result the university can impose whatever net policies they like, at any time, and we can't do a thing about it. How can this problem be handled?
  • All e-mail, phone calls, and video monitoring are now standard for most companies, so why not universities and colleges? Get use to it, privacy is no longer an issue.

    If, as you say, privacy is no longer an issue, then the root cause of it is that the general public, like yourself, has adopted a defeatist attitude. It is precisely this kind of outlook that makes it possible to take away privacy like that. We haven't lost yet, and I won't let it go without a fight just because someone thinks we already have.

  • Insert obligatory plug for free data encryption tools and secure protocols here

    This message was brought to you in compliance with the "Slashdot Encryption Reference Requirement" stating that encryption and its merits must be invoked when discussing anything plausably relevant to it

    -----Obligatory Encryption Related Post Sig------
    When cryptograph is outlawed...and so on, and so forth
    ------End Obligatory Sig------
  • It is rather funny that people complain about email and other stuff while their ability to freely discuss and explore various ideas is severly limited due to rampart Political Correctness.

  • by tewwetruggur ( 253319 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @10:55AM (#432297) Homepage
    I actually worked in the campus post office, which, mind you, is not the same as the little "mail rooms" at the respective dorms. At the post office, the non-student employees were federal postal employees. The students are paid by the university, but are held to the rules of the USPS. The people in the mail rooms in the dorms are emploiyed by the front desk of the dorm. They are not employed through the post office.

    So what does that mean. Well, simple. No one is allowed to open you mail. It is a federal offense. There were certain "special" cases when we might open someone's mail, but only because they had requested it during holiday times, or if they wre athlete's on the road who were needing something urgent. Even that was probably breaking the rules/law, but again, it was only if requested and was something urgent. It was often loan info, looking for plane tickets for home, a check from mom and dad. And its not like we opened everything addressed to that person - they had to tell us exactly who it was coming from and what was in it.

    But as far as the university "snooping" in your snail mail - well, that'd land a few butts in prison, to say the least.

    People tend to forget that e-mail is indeed NOT the same as snail mail. But that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be.

  • Yes, your paying your way for school and yes, you you have the right to have a say in what the polcies and regulations are for your school if you are paying for school. All university standards should be drafted by both University falculty and students. BUT you tell many people people in University care about an issue like this and how many of them will take action? There are more serious issues in Universities and Colleges that need to be addressed first but never get the backing, so what makes this privacy issue anything special?

    Welcome to Reality 101.

  • You have no reasonable expectation of Privacy when using a PUBLIC service of any sort. If you are concerned with Privacy, do it from home with your own equipment. If you are, for all intents and purposes, in a place other than your personal residence (Dorm rooms are NOT your personal residence), then you should NOT expect to be unmonitored.

    Chalk this up to one of those "Well, DUH" kind of things. I don't even understand why this is attracting attention. Lack of Privacy in your home I can understand. Spyware on your personal machine I can understand. But privacy issues in SCHOOLS? Come on ...

  • by TechLawyer ( 182030 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @10:58AM (#432300)
    My university (the University of Arizona), back in the 80s, used to intercept financial aid checks sent directly to students, where those checks were made out to students. Good ol' U of A then deposited them in a slush fund for a couple of months, before they issued the student their financial aid money, and after they had garnered significant interest. The funny thing is that the external scholarship entities weren't aware of this. It didn't stop until I worked out what was going in on conjunction with my external scholarship entity, and they promptly had a bunch of high-priced lawyers put a stop to that nonsense immediately. I suppose the lesson is that big institutions will do whatever they can get away with.
  • I go to the same school. We even get to keep our inventions for Major Qualification Projects. Frankly it kicks ass.

    For the slow, just because I think of something doesn't mean I'm using school property, specifically this $1000 Athlon I bought AND OWN.

    Course, private ownership has no place in students lives, I mean they're just students you know, they're there to learn so we can sell them to Microsoft or some other corporation.
  • Here's my question/rant:

    Students (I am one) are required to pay a fee for information services, eg networking, computer labs on campus, etc. We are given rights, and restrictions. But here's my issue. The university takes ultimate responsibility for maintenance, upgrading, and upkeep of the system. Doesn't that mean that they have the right to make sure that the same system is not being abused by the 1337, (read freshmen) the unaware, and the malicious?

    People nowadays seem to view electronic media as theirs and theirs alone. It's not! We as tax-payers, may have helped build the thing, but we do not maintain it. Until and unless there is a standardardized code of behavior for networked traffic, an individual system administrator, even one the size of a major university, should have the RIGHT to ensure that their equipment is not being abused.

    If you don't like it, buy your own equipment, and set it up in the basement of a major NAP.

    And I don't think we should view this as any sort of analogy to federal mail. The USPS is protected by a series of laws, E-mail is not. Besides, if it were, anyone who set up a sniffer, for ANY reason would be breaking the law.

    Any responses?
  • As an introduction... In the U of I dorms, our usage policies are rather strict. We're permitted 500 mb per day (either direction) per MAC address. From there, we're limited to 4 MAC addresses per port, and there is one port per room. In some of the older networks in other dorms, you are limited to 500 mb per day per port. Additionally, access to Napster and Imesh has been blocked entirely (through traditional access, anyhow). There are talks of implementing a new system, which analyzes your traffic usage, and if you use more than a certain amount of bandwidth over a certain period of time (there's a 10 mbit switched line to each of the dorms, and ill usage would be something along the lines of 100 k/sec for more than 30 seconds or so), the system will throttle your connection. If you continue to use bandwidth, the system will continue to throttle your connection until the connection is made un-usable. The procedure reverses incrementally in a similar manner, so you get the idea. Many see this as an improvement, but I'm not so sure. Irregardless...

    In any event, the administration contends that doing this isn't an invasion of privacy, and since we don't have a network usage fee, there's no reason we should complain, because using the resource for anything outside academic purposes is out of policy, and there is almost no way to justify high bandwidth usage (or high volume, their current, and much less accurate metric) save some very special exceptions, such as downloading Linux ... and now they contend that since RedHat and Debian are mirrored locally, that isn't even such a good excuse. Regardless, even if your usage of bandwidth IS legitimate, they shut your port down first, and re-instate it only after you've talked to the security officer, whose role is essentially "Hey, were you trading mp3s? I think you are. One more time, and you get to talk to the dean."

    So after visiting University of Michigan and some other universities where essentially the official policy is "It's not our business, if they use more bandwidth, then we'll give them more to use," do you, as a researched expert in the field, think that this type of policy is reasonable? You can view the posted policy [], which also mentions that gaming and other activities are prohibited, as it may impact educational usage of the network. I'm interested in hearing how this relates to what else you've seen, and how fair of a policy you think this is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @10:59AM (#432304)
    After crashing part of the CS dept's network (due to program error), I had my account disabled and was summoned to the sysadmin's office. In addition to explaining what I did that messed things up, which we all agreed was accidental, I was asked to again sign the dept's "terms of service" form.

    Stupid me, though, decided to read it first. One line said that I agree to abide by the software licenses of all the software packages installed on the system. When I asked to see these licenses, the sysadmin got all heated and refused. I asked if they were posted somewhere or stored on-line. He said, no. When I asked how I could sign to agree to follow licenses which were refused to be presented to me, he said, "well, you have to sign or your account can't be re-enabled".

    Hmmm. Sign or be unable to do required schoolwork.

    So I signed but wrote next to my signature that staff refused to show me the SW licenses they required me to agree to above. The sysadmin grumbled, but accepted the amended TOS form.

    I heard similar tales from students at other universities and schools. WHY DO SCHOOLS DO THIS?

  • The last two companies I have worked at have had policies like this. They kept them around while not enforcing them so that they could 'weed out the bad eggs' whenever they wanted an excuse to fire somebody.
  • by tewwetruggur ( 253319 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @11:00AM (#432306) Homepage
    That, I believe, is why some universities banned napster and napster-like services. Some schools claimed it was a bandwidth issue, but your point was most definitely considered. I can't recall exactly which school it was, but they cited that exact reason for why p2p music sharing was banned.

  • by SGDarkKnight ( 253157 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @11:02AM (#432307)
    I certainly hope this dosn't mean that uni's or colleges can just simply read the students mail. It should matter where the mail is. It is still directed to one person, and only that person. Just because the college or university has a mail deposit centre for the post office to drop off mail to all the students living in residence, should not grant them the right to read it just because they are holding on to it until it is picked up. Same goes for Email, just because its passing through several hops to get to its destination dosn't mean they the admin for those hops gets to read all the mail. So what does it matter if it goes through the hop or stops at the college, shouldn't it still be a private message protected by some sort of 'mail' law? Or do the laws just get tossed out the window when it comes to the internet.... ah well, maybe im just confused.... anyone elses opinion would be good.
  • by dvdeug ( 5033 ) <> on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @11:05AM (#432308)
    What do you mean, my dorm room is not my personal residence? I live here, and pay for the privilege. Would you be so happy if your employer forced you to live in a certain apartment building, and forced you to use the LAN instead of a modem, and then told you that they could listen in on anything on that LAN?
  • by Wariac ( 56029 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @11:06AM (#432309)
    Do you think that Schools do this in practice, or is this just a CYA (cover your ass) scenario in case a student does something stupid/illegal. It seems to me in this lawsuit-happy world full of sleazy lawyers that this could be the only way that Schools (or anyone) can avoid being sued into bankruptcy.

    In a nutshell, Do the schools implement these policies on thier own accord, or are they usualy done at the request of thier insurer?


  • Since I am unable to "opt-out" of their heavy-handed policy

    Unfortunately, the policy that many schools have regarding their obvious lack of regard for personal rights and freedoms is, you are able to 'opt-out' of their policies; it's called dropping out.

    Since they didn't force you to go to their school, they claim they can enforce any policies they want and you can always leave if you don't like it.

    Strangely enough, many high schools have even worse policies, and they can't claim the same - high school students are forced to attend. But (most) parents don't seem to care, they have the attitude that turning school into a maximum security prison will protect their kids, instead of realizing that prisons create criminals and make it worse for those wanting to 'learn' and have 'fun'.
  • Ask them why they say that about Linux
    There are many misconceptions floating around about this "hacker OS"
  • I work in the IS deptment of a large university. Our IS management is so big on privicy that they will not allow virus scanning of servers and e-mail. This is nice from a policy point, but very difficult to explain to users why the lastest (and not so latest) virus has just eaten thier hard drive and thier research data. We also do not run firewalls, because they limit "accadmic freedom". Of course users machines are being hacked on a regular basis. While people are concered about their privicy, there also needs to be a balance on preserving users data.
  • Unfortunately, you have almost no legal ground to stand on. There are almost NO limitations on how a private corporation can violate your rights, if you give them permission. If this is a public University (Clemson right?), you might have some options if they try to limit your freedom of speech (say the revoke your account because you posted uncomplimentary statements about the school.) Then you could sue. But if they are just making sure no one is using their connection for kiddie-porn, illegal hacking, etc, then theres not much you can do (or should do, really, since its harmless to you).
  • All web traffic at my school ( goes through a transparent web proxy. Aside from the fact that i often get cached pages that have been updated since last transfered, i am also wondering about their ability to track which sites i frequent. Soon they will think i am a computer hacker since i post to the infamous /. and sieze my computer! =D

    But it is their network and they can have whatever usage policy they deem fit. Is there any way to assure myself privacy?

  • The "ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US" quote comes from ZeroWing, one of the worst-translated games in existence. It is generally followed by "YOU ARE ON THE WAY TO DESTRUCTION!"

    The proper response, by the way, is "WHAT YOU SAY?!"

    There's a fandub of the opening floating around the Net; check it out if you can find it.
  • If there is no privacy in school's or business then the goverment should take away are privacy. There is no freedom with out privacy. My E-mail is none of anyone's busines.
  • At UMCP, we've got a fairly reasonable AUP, as far as most college's go ( if you care to read it. However, the parts of are issue, mostly: Computing resources are provided to support the academic research, instructional, and administrative objectives of the University. These resources are extended for the sole use of University faculty, staff, students, and other authorized users ("users") to accomplish tasks related to the user's status at the University, and consistent with University's mission. My issue is that anyone living int he dorms here spend close to 24/7 on campus (exculding jobs and such), and of course nobody spends all thier waking hours doing work. Should the AUP's of colleges simply be written this way to CYA, or should they be appropriate to actual usage and policing?
  • In the acceptable use policy tml [], the following are stated:

    2. Accounts are assigned to individuals and are not to be shared unless specifically authorized. You, the user, are solely responsible for all functions performed from accounts assigned to you. Anything done through your account may be recorded. It is a violation of University Policy to allow others to use your account. It is a violation to use another person's account, with or without that person's permission.

    According to Drexel, this also not allowing other people to even SIT at your computer and USE it. It also, according to them, means you CAN NOT run LINUX and give an account to a friend. The way I read this rule is that you can not give away your username and password to the DREXEL accounts! I would need to give out my username and password to the email server, or to one of the UNIX systems to be in violation of the rule, which I believe is absolutely fine. But they are trying to twist it so that if your computer is connected into the network, all access to that system is restricted to you and you alone, and I feel that this is absolutly unacceptable. Especially when I do in fact pay for this service with the room and board.
    And they are in fact enforcing this on Linux systems. 2 of my friends have been sanctioned for running Linux (one of them had given an account to his younger brother, the other was just running Linux and his system was hacked, so they SANCTIONED HIM for GETTING HACKED!!!).

    The other part that I have a question on is this:

    8. You may not attempt to bypass computer or network security mechanisms without the prior express permission of the owner of that computer or network system. Possession of tools that bypass security or probe security, or of files that may be used as input or output for such tools, shall be considered as the equivalent to such an attempt.

    Now in this rule, they first state that you MAY attempt to probe security if you have the express permission of the person's computer or network that you are probing. This seems perfectly reasonable. But, in the very next sentence they then state that having and software of devices that are used to probe systems will be considered a violation of the acceptable use policy. Now, I am a UNIX network administrator. I have EVERY RIGHT to own devices and software that will probe systems for I regularly check both my own systems, and those at my work from my home computer. I also from time to time will probe some of my friends systems when they as me to (the case of my friend who was hacked I did indeed probe his system). I have never probed any system other then ones I have been authorized to do so, but according to the policy, even though I have authorization, I can't own any software or devices that do the probing!!!

    If I had the choice, I would NEVER AGREE to this policy. But I do NOT have a choice. If I was able to get xDSL, or cable modem service, or a T1 (hell even a modem), I WOULD DO SO. But we as students are not allowed to get any of these in the dorms. The phone system we use does not allow modems. We can not get xDSL because we can not choice our phone service. And we can not get cable modems because do not get cable (have very poor satellite service with Direct TV, in which we get ~30 channels).

    What options do we have other then to take whatever crap they feel like dishing out? I never even realized how bad the policy was until my friend was hacked several months ago.

    His system was completely compromised (they had root access). They then used his system to hack other systems. The IT center at Drexel cut his connection (I agree with them doing this), but then without even doing ANY investigation, they brought him up on charges of mis-use of a computing device, and attempted hacking. This would have DEVISTATED ANY chances of him getting a job in the future (Computer Science major). He came to me right away looking for any help. His logs were wiped, but we had a seperate log that we setup that periodically captured all processes running. In that log I found an in.telnet process that someone was logging in as root from an IP outside IP address. Using this, I then traced the connection back to an address owned and run by Shaw Cable Modem services, out of Maryland, USA. Even with this information the IT department would not believe that he was hacked, and they were going through with the charges. The worst part of it was that the IT department was SURE to have logs of the access to the machine, but they REFUSED to even look at them for us, for this would PROVE that he had been hacked. Not until I got help from my computer ethic's professor were we able to work out the situation.

    He was still sanctioned for running LINUX, and getting hacked! He had to do 20 hours of work for the University, just for running Linux. Now this is an OUTRAGE!

    P.S. for those that want to know, his system was compromised with the buffer-overflow security hole in wu-ftpd-2.6.0. I am 99% positive that this is how they gained access.
  • Chalk this up to one of those "Well, DUH" kind of things. I don't even understand why this is attracting attention. Lack of Privacy in your home I can understand. Spyware on your personal machine I can understand. But privacy issues in SCHOOLS? Come on ...

    What about those of us at state-run, public schools, who are required to stay in the dorms first year? Are you saying that, by going to college, I am giving up my right to privacy?
  • Right, when you drive on the roads, you don't expect privacy in your own vehicle. Oh, hmm ... wait, you do?

    There is a reasonable expectation of privacy in your vehicle, to the extent that police officers need to observe probable cause before they search your vehicle. Is there an analagous situation for computers? I certainly expect privacy on my computer. (Wether thats legally enforceable is another question)

    So when I put my computer onto a publically funded school network, is there a case to be made that I have reasonable privacy rights unless I'm driving dangerously (i.e. eating up massive bandwidth or pinging every machine on the school net...)
  • A few years back a graduate assistant at U of Wisconsin was ordered to cease using his University account to email members of the City Council, under Statutes forbidding use of State facilities for Lobbying.... Should Public Universities place different levels of online Speech restriction on Students and Staff? Since Legislators' email boxes reside State Systems, would ANYONE Emailing them be in violation?
  • by judd ( 3212 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @11:22AM (#432323) Homepage
    Long ago I worked at a University where the computer use regulations were phrased so that we could bust you for more or less anything we liked. No one was happy about this, but there was a reason: the arms race of CS students vs administrators.

    As soon as we prohibited antisocial activity X, clever students would come up with equivalent activity Y which would not be covered by the original wording, but caused similar (or worse) harm. It turned out that it was terribly difficult to clearly delineate what was and was not acceptable use of the campus facilities in a way that was actually useful (ie protected the privacy of staff and students, allocated server resources fairly, protected the Uni from legal liability). So we gave up :(

    Classic quote: "Our firewall isn't there to protect the campus network from the outside world. It's there to protect the rest of the world from our students."
  • by killbill ( 10058 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @11:23AM (#432324) Homepage
    University network administrators accept limited public funds to provide a particular subset of functionality to meet particular goals of the university. They have a great many technical and legal constraints (both internal and external) on their solutions. Many of these constraints are legitimately addressed by privacy intrusive policies.

    When publicly available dial up and broadband access is cheap and universal, why should a taxpayer funded institution have any obligation to incur extra expense to achieve "freedom"? Why not let the individuals who value freedom buy and use the services that meet their goals, and let the taxpayer funded institutions buy the services that meet the goals of the funding (taxpayer / university) community?
  • "All e-mail, calls, AND video monitoring are *standard* for most companies"??? (emphasis mine). I don't know who you work for, but if I were you I'd start looking for alternative employment...
  • "Netware 10"- WTF are you talking about? FYI- The oldest version of Netware (that a window$ box can talk to) is Netware 3.10, the newest is NW5.1

    It's not the NetWare that is your problem. It's the administrators. IMIO, even old Netware versions are some of the most stable, reliable, and secure file server operating systems on the market- as long as the administrator knows what's what. The newer (Netware 4.11-.12,5 and 5.1) are almost bullet proof. I administer 2 NW servers supporting about 3000 users, one of which has been in continuous operation for almost 4 years.

    Inferring that win2K would be better is a troll (and a very poorly informed one at that...), and suggesting that someone replace what is obviously a file server with a BSD box has to be a joke... BSD and Linux both can be used as file servers but why would you want to? There are other OSs that are much more suited to the task.

  • Perhaps not legal recourse, but there is allways technicalogical recourse. Use encryption. A lot. For everything, or at least as often as is practical (you may not be able to encrypt your assignments if your professers don't have keys). You can at least digialy sign your documents.

    But don't stop there. Work around campus to advocate the use of encryption to the entire student (and instructor) population. Eventualy, even your assignments can be encrypted.

    Remember, encryption is not just for terrorsits, its for normal people, too.


  • Well, some argument could be made about the way the moeny flows. At school, I'm paying to be there, And my money suports thier actions. At work, They pay me to be there, and their moeny supports my (in)action.
  • Ever since Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement invented the American Campus Protest in the mid-60s, universities have been displaying their hypocrisy in the battle of expression and curiosity vs. presentation and mind-control.

    But they're in a bind. They've taken enormous money from ten thousand loudmouthed societal newbies, and see it as an expensive proposition to have to compete with them for public-relations on a level playing field. They don't want to have to present the counterargument to every argument the kiddies devise. So they resort to the muzzle. And then justify it in strange, hypocritical ways that make you wonder if they missed the last 250 years of the history of political freedom.

    Mario got that. He worked via enlightened negotiation. The protest culture that followed didn't get it. They just saw the struggle as a big party and wanted it to continue. Bitching is fun. Solving society's problems is work. Divisiveness is self-empowering. Not everyone takes the time to respect your rights. Four dead in O-hi-o.

    The moral: Emotional acts, fameseeking, and pavlovian drives are barriers to progress in conflict resolution.

  • Yes ... by going to a public (or even a private school) you are giving up your right to privacy. People might argue the point with me, but that's how I view it.

    Never assume you have privacy, especially when you KNOW you aren't in complete control over that privacy. If there's more than one key to your house/dormroom, assume that key can be used.

  • From Zero Wing, to be precise. See [].
  • ...there would be no guarantee of privacy on snail mail. America has become a caricature of itself. Freedom has been eroded in all counts. When freedom is traded for safety, society suffers.
  • Well it seems a lot of people care about it, and I'm not sure why you would advocate "just give up". There seems no possible gain from this stance.

    I think private freedom is the most serious issue at stake here (assuming basic needs are met, which is definately the case). Is making more money more important than freedom?

    Many of the founders of the US thought that personal freedom was valuable enough to risk losing their life or property.

    It seems you just want to believe you can't do anything, so that you don't have to take action. And this consumer attitude you call "reality 101" - in fact it's just being lazy.

  • I've written some network monitoring/logging software [] at the University where I work. Some people have suggested that it might invade people's privacy. What do you think?

    Is logging only TCP/IP headers (ip addresses/ports/packet size) an invasion of privacy? How about if we log packet data as well? What if this data is deleted after a fixed interval and only looked at when there's evidence of a security problem? Under what circumstances would you see traffic logging as a problem?


  • by osgeek ( 239988 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @11:29AM (#432335) Homepage Journal
    Oddly enough, these sorts of policies are in place even at schools that would never dream of snooping on students' postal mail or the books they read at the library.

    That analogy can only go so far. The thing you have to remember with Internet access is that the potential for abuse is so great.

    How can you abuse the post office? Get a lot of mail? Since all mail delivered is paid for through postage, receiving more mail just means more business for them.

    How can you abuse the Library (assuming you don't just destroy books or not return them, which are against "the rules" anyway)? One person can only read so many books. You really would have to go out of your way to abuse a library so that it's noticeable to a large percentage of the libary's users.

    How can you abuse a computer network?
    • I could set up a couple of hard-core porn sites on the campus network and bring it to its knees.
    • I don't even need porn. I could decide to start mirroring Yahoo and /., or maybe CPAN and RedHat.
    • I could start spamming people with product literature for some piece of software that I've written, sending out tens of millions of pieces of email through the servers.
    • I could engage in DoS battles with others on the net.

    In short, networking technology is just ripe for abuse, and having been an administrator at an ISP, I know that there is always that 1% of the people out there who will greedily waste 90% of everyone's shared resources without even being embarrassed.

    Because of that high abuse potential, network administrators need policies that allow them take action when there's a problem. I admit that it's not an ideal situation, but for now it's a compromise position that a lot of us who are just innocently going about our business are willing to deal with.

    One solution might be to make up and enforce heavy-handed rules for every aspect of Internet use. Set things up so that all of the machines on campus have very small individual pipes to the backbone. Heavily restrict server space, mailbox size, and firewall the hell out of everything. Lock up the whole network nice and tight... but that sucks too.

    Face it, it's not an easy problem to solve. Shaking our fists in the air at network administrators who are just trying to maintain a stable network that is available for all of their users is unfair and counterproductive.

    It would be nice if eventually the technology automatically prevented some chances for abuse. It'd be nice if our culture embraced a system of ethics that would make such safeguards unnecessary.

    Instead of just carping at authority in a typically /. fashion, how about proposing ways that the systems can be improved so that these kinds of stiff measures aren't necessary. Why is there such a problem with acknowledging that there are two sides to every problem and that solutions of value can only be reached by respecting everyone's goals?
  • Here []. It's in Quicktime.
  • Well there should be, my computer here at the office bellongs to the company, it exists for use on work based products. In theory my boss could say no personal email etc. However your computer in your dorm room at school is yours. And a university has a much broader scope than a company. A university exists to promote education.

    In general a university should allow the most open use of its network posible. Now this may in some occations entail limiting access to some systems as so not to overwealm the net, but in general things like mail/usenet and web should be as open as posible.

    I'm begining to think that they should let the post office regulate email.

    Or I should sign all me email with the decree of Rabbi Grishiom. He was the 10th century rabbi who first said that a courier should not read the mail he was carring for people.
  • I'm not talking about personal housing, even if they are state-owned. I'm talking about colleges and specifically, dorms.

    If you are living in a home that no one but your family has access to, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. That's different.

    Think about this ... when you live at a college, think of all of the people who have access to your dorm, mail, etc. The number is staggering.

  • Can a university filter or block incoming http requests through a proxy and record outgoing responses? If they can, which universities do and which don't? Can a university come in my room and say "we have reason to believe you are breaking the law" and take my box and look in it and do what they want with it? In a more general sense, can they seize my property while I'm on campus? Which schools do this? Thanks, Travis
  • by SkyIce ( 184974 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @11:47AM (#432354)
    Take a look at my school's AUP at video.html . Some interesting quotes:
    No pseudonymous or anonymous messages may be sent. Students should be careful not to give out personal information over the Internet.

    Accessing the accounts and files of others is prohibited.

    Students may be held accountable for their actions while off-campus and thus for messages posted from off-campus accounts.

    Academy network resources, including all telephone and data lines, are the property of the Academy. The Academy will, to the extent possible, respect privacy of all account holders on the network. However, the Academy is responsible for investigating possible violations of and enforcing all Academy rules governing the network. Academy network users should, therefore, keep in mind that the Academy reserves the right to access any information stored or transmitted over the network.

    But nowhere in it does it mention the search of a personal computer. Somehow, last week, on mere suspicion, my and three other kids' computers were seized and held for a few days while the network administrator attempted to track down the source of network troubles. He ultimately failed, but in the process noticed that I was using a different IP address and hostname other than the one I had been assigned. The case was sent to the discipline committee under "Theft of IP address" and I am now on probation for eight weeks. My dorm room's port was activated "with restrictions" yesterday, and they now want me to e-mail them a list of every program I want to download so that they can verify it. Was this even legal? What can I do to stop something like this from happening in the future?
  • by Sethb ( 9355 ) <> on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @11:51AM (#432357)
    It's also quite likely that they didn't want you to start installing Linux for a bunch of students who couldn't manage it themselves. The last thing that the typically overworked and underpaid university IT staff need are 2000 Linux newbies flooding the help line and support desks with questions about Linux on their dorm computers.

    That said, I don't think they can, or should, discourage a student group from forming. They may, however, ask you to make it clear to anyone that you give Linux to, that they're not going to receive any help from the support staff, other than being assigned an IP address...
  • by PapaZit ( 33585 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @11:59AM (#432366)
    Here's a shot from "the other side."

    I work in Computing Services for a tech-oriented private university. Our usage policies aren't as bad as some, but they definitely give us broad priviledges. We've been through many, many proposed revisions that keep being killed by some combination of faculty, staff or lawyers. The basic problems:

    • There doesn't seem to be a concise legal way to say "Don't be an asshole and don't break the law," which is all we really want.
    • It's occasionally necessary for staff to look at private information for technical reasons (reconstructing mail spool after disk crashed, making sure the nifty new backup program actually worked, etc.). We have a huge infrastructure, and if we had to stop and check every time we might accidentally see something, we'd never get anything done unless we made our staff size much larger. We don't have the budget to do that.
    • Occasionally, the sysadmins will find something really bad during the course of routine work. "Spending a long time in federal prison" kind of bad. We try to keep these sort of events quiet to avoid publicity for the user in case it's not their fault (someone cracked their account, etc). We don't want our users on the evening news, but this'll happen with most "notify lots of people before doing anything" plans.
    • There are two opposing viewpoints that are both vocal in our community. One says "privacy over all" while the other says "learning and sharing over all". We have quite a few people who make their home directories publicly readable as a sort of protest against the "privacy freaks" (their words). Finding a policy that makes both happy is very difficult.
    In light of these constraints (financial and social), how do we give more rights to our users without seriously impeding our ability to do our jobs?


  • [what]is the best/most effective argument to get non-techie types to understand that the computer/internet is just another form of media and should be treated just like we would books/video/magazines?

    To start, you might try not talking like your opinion is the fundemental revealed truth and those who disagree with you just don't "understand". That seems to turn a lot of people off. You might be better off asking

    "What is the best/most effective argument to win over non-techie or other disagreeing types to my point of view that the computer/internet is just another form of media and should be treated just like we would books/video/magazines?"

    If the additude in your question spills over to your conversations with those you don't agree with (techie or non) you are unlikely to win converts no matter what arguments you use.

    Kahuna Burger

  • Um, yeah, actually it does. Legal protections on postal mail apply _only_ to postal mail. I believe the same goes for things sent UPS. There's no law saying UPS can't open your package/letter. If they did, nobody would use their service, but that's beside the point. Same goes for free webmail-type services, and non-uni ISP's, etc. Legally, they can read your mail whenever they want. It's not that laws get "tossed out the window," they didn't apply in the first place.

    Also, unless you're encrypting your mail, it's totally out in the open for anyone with a sniffer etc. to read at any hop along the way. If you wouldn't send it in a letter without a sealed envelope, don't send it in an unencrypted email.

  • by elmegil ( 12001 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @12:51PM (#432398) Homepage Journal
    So how many of you have actually been University Sysadmins?

    As a former sysadmin (and before that a former student hacker in trouble, so don't assume I don't know your side of the story), I can guarantee you that if everything is permissible in the name of free speech and I as sysadmin can't do anything to stop you, then the service you're going to end up with will be worthless. Because a few immature "l33t hax0r" types will make a point of abusing resources to the point where nothing more can be done.

    If the University has any sense, they will have a grievance and arbitration board, and any actions by the staff considered overbroad or out of bounds can be taken before that board for appeal.

    Of course I've actually argued with Mr. Kadie about these issues (MANY years ago) on public newsgroups. He seems to believe that every organization has the resources and the responsibility to follow rules as complex as the FBI's rules of engagement. Most Universities do not have that luxury.

    And the fact remains that most of the loudest proponents on campus of "free speech uber alles" are also usually the last ones to actually exercise any responsibility in their behavior, and thereby poison the well for all their peers. Mr. Kadie's heart may be in the right place to insist on just treatment, but nonetheless, some thought needs to go into the issue as well; you can't just say that a University IT group of 3-8 people responsible for 5000 students have to follow the same due process that the police go through because 1) they don't have any legal obligation to do so and 2) there is no way they could be effective under such constraints.

  • What do you mean, my dorm room is not my personal residence? I live here, and pay for the privilege.

    It all depends on how your "leasing" arrangement works. You might want to look at it.

    I know that at my school, The University of Alabama in Huntsville [], the state is the lessor and the student is the lessee. In that arrangement, all the lessor has to do is perform routine health inspections--which my current apartment complex can do, too, if they feel the need.

    At UAH's dorms, folks can do lots of what they want with their connection, but running servers usually gets you pzapped, because our bandwidth really is in short supply. UAH also kadinked Napster for the same reason [officially]. I do know I saw the effect of Napster on our network personally, because my computer in the SGA Office would slow to a crawl, connection-wise, when all the students got out of classes and fired their downloads back up.

    But back to my original comment, your privacy questions mainly have to do with the way your leasing/rental arrangement works. If you're signing a lease, read the lease. If you're paying a fee [and there can be a difference], there's a big difference. Varies from school to school and lease to lease, just like the rest of the world.

  • Would you be so happy if your employer forced you to live in a certain apartment building
    You are not being forced to do anything. Your association with that university is voluntary. You agreed to it.

    That applies to your employer just as much as to your university.
  • and now the university informs students' parents of on-campus alcohol or disciplinary violations

    This is illegal. Federal law prohibits the university from sharing just about any kind of record with the parents (except e.g. PLUS loan records, where the parent is the borrower) without the student's consent. IIRC, the applicable law is the FERPA - Family Educational Records Privacy Act or something close to that.

    Check in...OK! Check out...OK!
  • In otherwards, 1984. The government doesn't care about what uneducated people say, but the educated (Dr. Martin Luther King; Martin Luther; Mohmatas Ghandi) can change the world, and hence are dangerous to the status que. Giving the power to the government to watch just the group of people who are learning how to change the world is outrageous.

    There's no such thing as absolute security, but there's a big difference someone having the legal right to watch everything you write and someone breaking the law to do it.
  • I go to a fairly devout Christian U., that has very aggressive censor ware against sex, porn, illegal activities, but that isn't the focus of my question. Unlike many schools, my U. did nothing to block Napster use, and I always found this a little surprising.

    When we came back from X-Mas break, Napster was blocked. People moaned and groaned, but it turns out it wasn't even our school's call (though they might have had a say in it) Our school gets its access from a state-wide government-run ISP for educational institutions, and the ISP decided to block Napster, Gnutella, and probably others.

    Rather than copyright issues, they cited bandwidth problems. Although, I miss my Napster, I find this hard to argue with. (Theoretically) the network is for educaitonal purposes, and my average dorm-connection speed has doubled since Napster was blocked. But this could easily become a slippery slope, what is to keep them from blocking things like FTP, or Real Audio, both of which I have used for research, but can present bandwidth problems.

    How would you suggest balancing to need to reserve bandwidth for serious school-related purposes, and still provide a useful Internet service?

  • This is the sort of thing students could probably litigate and win, but schools assume students don't have the money to do so.

    First of all, a student is a customer, not an employee, so the school doesn't have any of the rights of an employer.

    In a dorm situation, landlord-tenant law applies, and states restrict the power of landlords. For example, in most states you have the right to "quiet enjoyment" of the leased premises. This varies widely by state, though.

    Confiscation of anything without a court order is theft and should be reported as such to the local police and district attorney.

    Whether a school that offers network access in dorms is subject to regulation as a regulated common carrier has been litigated at Stanford. Stanford won. It was a big deal, too; Stanford operates a full-blown telco (voice, data, cable TV, videoconferencing, DSL, and cellular), charges for everything, and requires on-campus residents to use their services, including ordinary phone service. Students don't even get to choose a long distance carrier.

  • Why does all this surprise anyone? The avarage college campus of 2001 is probably the LEAST free place to be in the USA.

    With PC "speech codes" to some wacko colleges even outlawing ALL male pronouns, things have gotten very stupid.

    Professors who dare teach Western literature and history have had their courses cut out or else controlled... Feminist professors get to exclude men from here classes and NOT end up getting fired (what would happen in reverse?).

    Should anyone be surprised, that in this atmosphere of TOTAL lack of free speech, or free thought, or ANY freedom to challenge the "truths" of the establishment (left wing) that personal privace is any concern?

    In all honesty, these days, if you are going to be anything but a teacher, doctor, or lawyer, avoid college like the plague. Lack of a college degree really won't hinder you at all if you have IT skills and experience. Saving yourself 4 years of falling behind in the job market, and a LOT of money will put you ahead.

    If I were a consipracy theroist, I'd almost say that the horrid US educational system, from K-college serves the establishment ruling class (government) by producing ignorant mis-informed robots who do what they are told and don't question authority... Though we haven't QUITE declined to the point where this is reality yet, we are headed there.

  • As most people in the /. crowd are generally concerned with civil liberties and personal freedoms, I'm curious as to why you would make such a statement. Isn't the right to speak your mind, just as important as the right to speak it without being identified? People should be able to say whatever they want, and still have the OPTION of remaining anonymous if they are speaking about something personal and would like not to be unfairly singled out/identified.

    Nice straw man. I'm not advocating removing the right to post anonymously. It's just that most people who post anonymously do so to protect their karma, say something rude, etc. Useless crap. I have just as much of a right to *not* read useless crap as others have to post it. I also have the right to let them know that I won't be reading their useless crap.
  • A friend of mine attends a well known university that has a fiber drop outside her on campus apartment. She gets 10 megabits in from there.

    It solidly tests out at 8-9 megabits on any test site that goes fast enough.

    Now, she pays $550 a month for rent, but has a connection that would cost well more than that. I am not talking in DSL prices, we are talking a connection equivalent to a fractional T3 which would cost approx $2000/month.

    In exchange she agrees to not run a server, or abuse the bandwidth, and I have read the AUP on it and it does say they will monitor e-mail. Is this a fair price to pay?

    Also the bandwidth that college students enjoy would be expensive for them outside of academia.

  • I'd probably leave computer seizure to the police.

    A valid reason to read an email message is to see why you just sent out ten million copies of it through the campus mail server.

    The point I was making is that there are two sides to this. Casually dismissing the rights of some users is just as bad as casually dismissing the rights of administrators or casually dismissing the rights of other users who want nothing more than a stable network with moderate access to bandwidth and don't appreciate your "right" to decimate services while protecting your own assumptions of privacy.

    I've been a network administrator before. I know that it's not easy meeting the needs of your users, especially when one or two out of thousands are determined to fuck everything up.

    Give administrators the authority to take action to preserve the network for the significant majority. Hold network administrators accountable when they abuse their authority to play politics and advance their own selfish agendas. Hold users accountable who abuse their access privileges.

    Above all, avoid kneejerk reactions based solely on one narrow point of view when deciding large policy issues that affect a lot of people.
  • This ia a little piece of history dealing with CCSO and UIUC dorm room servers.

    Back in the stone ages, sometime in the 1993 or 1994 time frame, there was CCSO had ceased to carry the alt.binaries.* newsgroups, so one enterprising student with a 486 and 1.8 Gigs of hard drive space paid for an off-campus newsgroup feed and mirrored those groups. To make his and other's lives easier, he even used AUB to decode the newsgroups and made the resultant binaries available via FTP and HTTP.

    Mind you, as a responsible network citizen, he limited access to the domain. Still, at one point, he was doing 5 Gigs of traffic a day. The machine ran Slackware Linux and had the world's cheapest NE2000 10BaseT ethernet card ever. Even so, it rocked, and had pretty awesome response times. (BTW, 1.8 Gigs of HD space cost something like $800 back in those days)

    I've heard that CCSO used to make up these pie charts that showed bandwidth by subnet. However, there was one slice of the pie that was notable, because instead of a subnet, it was a single machine: isr1022.

    The other notable thing was that CCSO had refused to carry those newsgroups because of the "drain on resources". However, a crappy little 486 (albeit with a big ass hard drive) was able to handle resultant traffic with relative ease, so even back then, linux kicked ass.

    In any case, I suspect that this machine got CCSO and URH thinking about what would happen when everybody had the ability to set up a server like this, and that today's 500M cap is a result of that thinking.

  • you should be lucky that we don't ban [Linux] on campus ... Do you have any suggestions ...

    How about: vote with your feet!

    Example: the official Free-Unix student organization here on campus has 2 of us from Academic IT as "faculty" advisors...

  • With PC "speech codes" to some wacko colleges even outlawing ALL male pronouns, things have gotten very stupid.

    Can you name some of these colleges? This isn't a flame, I'm just curious as to whether you have concrete examples.

    Feminist professors get to exclude men from here classes and NOT end up getting fired (what would happen in reverse?).

    I assume you're talking about the Mary Daly case. If so, the administration removed her from her position because of her insistence on female-only classes. If you have any other examples, I'd like to hear them.

    As for the rest of your statements, I think you're overreacting. While many colleges have attempted to initiate regulates based on political correctness, they've been constantly defeated in court when they try to enforce them. I think a lot of this is just so much media hype; despite attacks from both the left and the right, most colleges have managed to remain free-speech safe.

    In all honesty, these days, if you are going to be anything but a teacher, doctor, or lawyer, avoid college like the plague. Lack of a college degree really won't hinder you at all if you have IT skills and experience. Saving yourself 4 years of falling behind in the job market, and a LOT of money will put you ahead.

    College isn't about money. It's a cliche, I know, but it's still true. If you have IT skills that will easily get you a job, be thankful; it gives you the freedom to study solely for enjoyment. Take the 4 years; if you're that eager to work, go part-time at least, to see if you enjoy it.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers