Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lakehead University and Gmail

I'm a few days late in posting about this issue. It's also been fairly well-discussed elsewhere so I'll be brief. Basically, Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, ON, has outsourced its email system to Gmail. An objection to this was filed by the Lakehead University Faculty Association, stating concerns about susceptibility to seizure under the USA PATRIOT ACT and the like. Earlier this month, a Canadian labour arbitrator ruled that, though the concerns were valid and he was sympathetic to the faculty association, Lakehead's plan did not violate the collective agreement. In addition, he also said that email is like "postcards" and is not completely private by its very nature.

Here's some reporting on the issue, in no particular order:

From Michael Geist's site:

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

From the CAUT Bulletin:

And here is the ruling itself:

I wonder what will come of this decision. Will it be appealed? (Can it be appealed?) Will other universities follow suit? Will the Lakehead University Faculty Association set up an alternate email system, based in Canada, for its members ? (why not :-)?)


Two articles of interest

For your perusal, here are a couple of articles from the past couple of days, one from Canada, one from the US, regarding federal governments and Internet snooping (for lack of a better term). There's nothing here that's particularly academic-centred but the information is relevant in a general sense.