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ERIC Number: EJ779199
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0190-2946
Windows without Curtains: Computer Privacy and Academic Freedom
McCaughey, Martha
Academe, v89 n5 p39-43 Sep-Oct 2003
When armed police officers, with no warrant, confiscated and searched the computer from this author's state university office, she began to cross-examine her relationship to computers and to investigate professors' computer privacy at public universities. She had violated no university policy. She had simply received an anonymous e-mail (an e-mail with a "from" line that read "Anonymous User" that turned out to be the "manifesto" of a group claiming responsibility for having spray-painted anti-rape graffiti on the campus the day prior. The brief message defended the group's act of property defacement as politically necessary given the problem of rape. The manifesto indicated no future action or plans to deface more property or hurt people. Because she directed the women's studies program, and such current events were discussed in classes, she forwarded the message (with an explanatory preface) to her colleagues on their women's studies Listserv. She also forwarded to her colleagues a critique of graffiti as a form of activism, written by one of her students. The e-mail manifesto said that she was one of several people being sent the manifesto because she was perceived by the senders to be sympathetic to their cause. In forwarding the e-mail to her colleagues, she attracted the attention of the campus police, who wanted to trace its origin and catch the senders/vandals. In this article, the author discovers the intricacies of electronic property rights and questions the rights faculty have to work stored on a university's hard drive. She asks if academics really want to write, teach, conduct research, and serve the public and the profession with a constant consciousness of an administrative or state presence. She argues that university policies must be created or revised to ensure that the electronic environment enhances, rather than erodes, academic freedom and civil liberties.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A