CAUT: Email Outsourcing Threatens Privacy & Academic Freedom

The Canadian Association of University Teachers recent Bulletin has a timely story about Email Outsourcing Threatens Privacy & Academic Freedom. The story is about Lakehead University switching over to Gmail. The switch means that students and faculty now have gigbytes of email space as opposed to the megabytes they had from the campus run service (a situation similar to what we have at McMaster.) The switch also raises privacy concerns because Google’s terms of use includes the following:

As a condition to using the Service, you agree to the terms of the Gmail Privacy Policy as it may be updated from time to time. Google understands that privacy is important to you. You do, however, agree that Google may monitor, edit or disclose your personal information, including the content of your emails, if required to do so in order to comply with any valid legal process or governmental request (such as a search warrant, subpoena, statute, or court order), or as otherwise provided in these Terms of Use and the Gmail Privacy Policy. Personal information collected by Google may be stored and processed in the United States or any other country in which Google Inc. or its agents maintain facilities. By using Gmail, you consent to any such transfer of information outside of your country.

As Google ads functionality so that they can offer more than just email I suspect this problem will be more acute. Soon we might see universities outsourcing calendar, word processing, spreadsheets, and web site functions.

One thought on “CAUT: Email Outsourcing Threatens Privacy & Academic Freedom”

Comments are closed.