The Email Generation Gap, Again

One of the topics that pops up periodically on university campuses is whether students use email. Within the university IT community it revolves around whether universities should continue offering email addresses to their students, since most students arrive with at least one email address in use.
Yesterday’s New York Times has an article in the ‘lifestyle’ section arguing that students ‘never’ read their email. I myself have not found this to be true – it seems to be their preferred method for dealing with ‘the man’ (taking myself as representing ‘authority’ in all its glory). But, as they say on the web, YMMV1.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/fashion/technology-and-the-college-generation.html?smid=pl-share

Any thoughts anyone reading this might have would be appreciated – feel free to comment…

1 ‘Your mileage may vary’

So what is privacy, anyway?

I have blogged at various times on privacy and the Internet, and it’s become a really hot topic both in the headlines (are you listening, NSA?) to the IT industry. Recently the always excellent web comic XKCD had a great take on the issue:

http://xkcd.com/1269/

Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) also blogged about privacy, with a very different take (and you should also read the comments to get a sense of what all the issues are.

http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/the_privacy_illusion/

Illegal Downloading and the University–again

In a week or so Dean of Students, David Strauss, will be sending a message to all WSU students reminding them that they should not be downloading copyrighted material (books, music, movies, software) illegally, and that the owners of those copyrights (especially of movies–MPAA and music–RIAA) are out looking for sites that distribute those files and will come after the distributors, which, in many cases, are the same people who did the downloading in the first place. This is because the software that handles downloading (BitTorrent and its competitors) not only helps you download content, but also makes it available to others to download from you.

My friend and colleague Tracy Mitrano, IT Policy guru at Cornell, recently wrote a great article in Inside Higher Ed on this issue.  As Wayne State does, Cornell sends out a message (as required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008) on the topic, and she usually asks students to write her with questions. The article is primarily a response to a question she got, and her answer is so thoughtful, I’d like to simply post a link to it here:

http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/law-policy-and-it/message-behind-annual-copyright-notice

The Perils of Crossing the Border with an Electronic Device

This post is the first in a number of communications that various parts of the university will be sending out dealing with the dangers of traveling across an international border with an electronic device of any kind.

Recently there has  been some press coverage of the fact electronic devices such as laptops, tablets and even smartphones are at risk of being hacked in various ways when accessing wireless networks elsewhere in the world (a comprehensive article can be found in this New York Times article .)

Somewhat more alarming, however, is that this ability to seize your devices is now being used for what some might consider political purposes. A friend of, and advocate for Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning was apparently placed on a watch list, and, on returning from a vacation, had a number of electronic devices seized at the border. Within the US, of course, such seizures require a search warrant, but you abandon all 4th amendment rights within the national no-man’s land of the US customs hall (and the courts have several times upheld this fact).

Here are a couple of accounts of this story, that broke this past Tuesday can be found here:

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/sep/10/new-details-how-feds-take-laptops-border/?breakingnews

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/09/manning-friend-database-stalked/

We are working on some guidelines to help WSU faculty and staff protect sensitive information while crossing borders (it turns out that this kind of vulnerability shows up while (re-)entering many other countries as well.