The federal government may soon have the power to watch everything you do over the Internet. The government wants to monitor all internet usage; every website and e-mail that students visit, send or receive. This would require universities across the nation to re-work their internet networks, at their own expense.
“It’s an invasion of privacy,” academic computing director Philip Mugridge said. “A lot of freedoms are being trampled on.”
The purpose of monitoring is to enable the FBI to catch terrorists and other criminal activities.
“Now most criminal activities are planned through the Internet, so it’s logical,” Bettie Ann Brigham, vice president of Student Development said. “Some of it seems more legit than others, but once you start doing it, where does it end?”
The campus is already monitored, but not to the extreme that the government is pushing for now.
If any illegal activities are discovered by Academic Computing, however, they are required to report them. According to Brigham, Eastern has a good record of complying with this policy.
Mugridge does not see the necessity of this extreme monitoring. “I think they get on a roll and do anything in the name of national security,” he said. “It seems to be a dangerous way to go.”
The unfunded mandate, which the government hopes to institute by spring 2007, is facing a lot of opposition from universities across the country. As noted in The New York Times, it would cost an estimated $7 billion to upgrade university networks nationally.
“If Eastern got this mandate we’d do it, but other things we’ve been wanting to do would be put on hold,” Brigham said. “The implications financially could be great.”
Depending upon the overall cost to upgrade Eastern’s system, another route to alleviate the high expenditure would be a raise in tuition, an option being explored by many colleges and universities nationwide. In a time when rising tuition prices are a constant concern for students, the mandate is likely to cause even more controversy.
“Our approach would be to continue to try to keep moderate growth in tuition,” Brigham said.