DSU honors internet privacy

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Dixie State University has chosen to not monitor its students and facultys’ internet use.

Ever since Edward Snowden released information on metadata collection by the U.S. Government in 2013, American citizens have protested for their rights in being secure and safe from unwarranted searches as stated in the Fourth Amendment.

At DSU, policies have been put into place to ensure safety and the right to do as one pleases in regards to using the internet. DSU Policy 462 Section 4.5 states that the college strives to provide “academic freedom and privacy” for those who use the internet on campus. The policy also states that because no computer system is completely private, there is “no guarantee” for internet user data to be completely protected.

When speaking of DSU’s IT department, Chief Information Officer Gary Koeven said, “Our focus is on working to protect DSU’s IT infrastructure and to safeguard private student, employee and institutional data, not on monitoring or censoring employee’s or student’s internet searches and activities.” 

As part of the IT department’s attempt to keep DSU students and employees safe and free, the school requires its internet users to login using a username and password, said Information Security Officer Andrew Goble.

“This is consistent with standard practices for other universities and Internet Service Providers across the U.S.,” Goble said.

So, does DSU monitor its employees and students while they search the internet?

The answer to that question is mostly no. 

“DSU doesn’t actively engage in [the] monitoring of what students or faculty are searching for or viewing on the internet,” Goble said. “[It] only uses what information it does to monitor or collect internally as permitted by university policy, and only releases that information to third-parties in response to a lawful court order or subpoena.” 

Sub-section 4.5.1 states, “The college reserves the right to access any college-owned information stored on college-owned computers and IT resources at any time.”

Along with sub-section 4.5.1, the remaining five sub-sections indicate that the school will cooperate with any state and federal laws requiring internet information from the school. For example, if a court order is in need of any e-mail messages or documents from students or employees, the school will turn over that information, “regardless of any expectation of privacy.”

Because some people make illegal choices like identity theft or extortion on the internet, consequences do come with different levels of severity. One could simply lose their right to internet access or if the situation escalates to a certain level of seriousness, the police or administration can step in. 

Don Reid, director of campus police and security, said, “If it were the case of child pornography, as was recently the case at one our on-campus student housing facilities, it would be the result of an FBI sting.”

Anthony Reininger, a sophomore CIT major from West Jordan, said the internet is an open range with a great ability to inform people. Due to the internet being so vast, he said in some situations certain information could be “possibly used against you” in some shape or form. For example, Reininger said any illegal or suspicious information posted on one’s social media in their past could be used against them if an individual were to ever get in trouble with the law at a future time.

Morgan Wood, a senior communication major from St. George, said he would prefer to have the ability to monitor himself instead of having someone look over his shoulder. To him, the Constitution is something that needs to be upheld, and the way to do that is to allow people the right to individual privacy on the internet. 

Because of the parameters set by DSU, Wood said he believes the school is showing trust in its students and faculty with their choices to roam the internet. 

There should be a line drawn when it comes to monitoring individuals and Wood said that “decision will be made for us.”