Monday, September 12, 2011

Inside Higher Ed reports on a proposed University of Illinois email policy, which has been condemned by FIRE and the AAUP in an unusual joint letter (I don't recall the AAUP and FIRE ever doing this before).

Banning the use of non-university email accounts is very disturbing, especially since the example offered by Corn is this: "We have seen situations where researchers are collaborating and using personal accounts, and they have a falling out, and the research project is at risk." So if there's a dispute between collaborators, the university will go into the email of one of them and steal their data to be used against their will? Let's ignore the likely fact that no research project has ever been endangered by private email accounts. This threat of stealing data is another alarming reason why every professor and student should use private email accounts.

Here's another disturbing part of this proposed policy. According to section 12.1, "Individuals and units are required to accurately and correctly identify themselves in all electronic communications." This is not expressly limited to university business or campus email accounts; it means that students or staff at the U of Illinois are banned from being anonymous anywhere on the internet at any time (the exception allowed is to "report intolerance").

This is an example of what happens when administrators devise policies that should be written by faculty and students.

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