Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

University Of California Faculty Object To Monitoring Of Their Emails, Website Visits

University of California (2015)San Francisco Chronicle, Cal Professors Fear UC Bosses Will Snoop on Them:

UC Berkeley faculty members are buzzing over news that University of California President Janet Napolitano ordered the installation of computer hardware capable of monitoring all e-mails going in and out of the UC system.

“The intrusive device is capable of capturing and analyzing all network traffic to and from the Berkeley campus and has enough local storage to save over 30 days of all this data,” Ethan Ligon, one of six members of the school’s Senate-Administration Joint Committee on Campus Information Technology, wrote in an e-mail Thursday to fellow faculty members.

Information that the hardware gathers, Ligon wrote, “can be presumed to include your e-mail, all the websites you visit, all the data you receive from off campus or data you send off campus.”

Napolitano’s office defends the action “by relying on secret legal determinations and painting lurid pictures of ‘advanced persistent threat actors’ from which we must be kept safe,” Ligon wrote. UC officials “further promise not to invade our privacy unnecessarily, while the same time implementing systems designed to do exactly that.

“This secret monitoring is ongoing.”

UC spokesman Steve Montiel confirmed that Napolitano, former head of the federal Department of Homeland Security, had a security system installed after a cyberattack on the UCLA Medical Center in July in which medical records of an estimated 4.5 million people were hacked into. Montiel said the system is capable of monitoring e-mails, but UC officials have no intention of peeking at professors’ correspondence or checking their website visits.

Legal Education | Permalink


This could have legal ramifications. Students have rights that are protected and in some instances communication with a professor could have confidential information. I sit on the academic standards committee, which students apply to be readmitted after being academically dismissed. That information is highly confidential and protected and some IT bozo better not be reading it. Nor can some IT bozo have access to student communications regarding their grades.

Posted by: Cheyanna Jaffke | Feb 4, 2016 2:18:13 PM

I just operate under the assumption that everything I do on my computer is being monitored
If Hillary Clinton had done the same, she would have avoided the very poor decision to conduct all her government business on a homebrew email server.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Feb 3, 2016 11:31:12 AM

I continue to be amazed that people are amazed that their emails, etc., are subject to being monitored. I'm a faculty member, and I just operate under the assumption that everything I do on my computer is being monitored (just as I did while in the private sector). Whether that's good or bad isn't my point: it's just that it's hard for me to see how people can still in 2016 be (or profess to be) shocked. Outraged? Maybe. Shocked? No.

Posted by: anon | Feb 3, 2016 8:43:48 AM

They'll find out they're reading TaxProf when they should be working.

Posted by: mike livingston | Feb 3, 2016 4:20:01 AM

I....agree with Steve Diamond?

Posted by: No, breh | Feb 2, 2016 11:44:53 PM

Faculty at UC, aren't they just like other playground employees?

Posted by: RP | Feb 2, 2016 9:46:45 PM

John - Faculty have an employment like relationship but legally have a "status" or "interest" - namely tenure or the right to tenure as well as protections of academic freedom (and in the case of a public agency like UC constitutional protections of free speech to bolster academic freedom). These interests are a property right and thus there is a stronger claim to a reasonable expectation of privacy than that enjoyed by a typical employee. Anyone who spent anytime as a non-faculty member staffer at Berkeley can you assure you that the difference exists and that the faculty are likely to defend it as they should.

Posted by: Steve Diamond | Feb 2, 2016 7:20:27 PM

.Umm what "different level" would what are in fact merely employees of a private or state funded university be operating on exactly? We have known for decades they despise the rest of us and the law is for the little people. But when big sister who hated and spied on the entire country turns on them, Oh man it’s an outrage

Posted by: Sulaco | Feb 2, 2016 6:44:41 PM

And faculty are different than employees, because?
And faculty are not employees because?

Posted by: John Pomeroy | Feb 2, 2016 6:41:18 PM

Brendan, I'll give that comment 300 milliblighters, with the low score being due only to brevity.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Feb 2, 2016 6:33:30 PM

Don't use the "company servers" for personal business or watching pornography. Surely the Berkley campus checks for those using porn sites, private business has been doing that for decades now and in the Government people watching porn all day isn't that uncommon.

Posted by: Ron Nord | Feb 2, 2016 6:32:53 PM

A University is not private sector. This would be appropriate for employees - not for faculty who operate on a different level.

Posted by: Brendan | Feb 2, 2016 6:24:14 PM

C'mon Man! What do they think this is, 1984?!
It's 2016, for crying out loud.
Hmmm, has a ring to it, eh?
"For crying out loud"
Apropos, even..

Posted by: hp | Feb 2, 2016 6:06:43 PM

Isn't this sort of data capture standard procedure in the private sector?

Posted by: AMTbuff | Feb 2, 2016 7:45:26 AM

Really, UC. What did you expect when you hire a DHS exec to run things?

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Feb 2, 2016 6:22:03 AM