Monday, March 24, 2008

Google VS Privacy

It seemed the ideal solution; rather than spend more than a million dollars replacing their antiquated and unstable computer system Lakehead University in Thunder Bay simply adopted Google's pack of online tools for free. But there was a downside.

U.S.-based Google spotlighted the university as one of the first to adopt its software model of the future, and today Mr. Pawlowski boasts the move was the right thing for Lakehead, saving it hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual operating costs. But he notes one trade-off: The faculty was told not to transmit any private data over the system, including student marks.
The U.S. Patriot Act, passed in the weeks after the September, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, gives authorities the means to secretly view personal data held by U.S. organizations. It is at odds with Canada's privacy laws, which require organizations to protect private information and inform individuals when their data has been shared.
As well as violating privacy law the Google deal also violates the university's labour contract with their faculty staff requiring the institution protect it's employee's privacy. The matter is currently in arbitration.

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