Anyhow, this morning I was startled to come accross an article in StudLIfe about the FCC's new internet regulations.
According to the article, the FCC is using the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to force colleges and universities to make online communications more easily available to the government. CALEA originally applied only to telephone communications, but the FCC believes that "new forms of crime and terrorism" necessitate expanding the reach of this law.
Before I get to the gross violation of privacy that this would entail, I'd like to point out the cost of overhauling a university network so that dissent-spotters can monitor your e-mail. The article points to an estimated $7 billion in new technology, with additional costs of installation and maintenance. This could result in tuition increases of at least $450 annually for an education that is already bordering on unaffordable.
Now, what I'm sure we've all been waiting for...we are still feeling reverberations from the USA PATRIOT Act and the complete loss of personal freedoms that the government seems to be striving for. Because, who knows, our student government might be planning a terrorist attack on another school, or fill in your own ridiculous accusation, that the government might need to see your inbox to prevent.
First of all, colleges and universities are already required to submit necessary information under a subpoena, which includes e-mail correspondence. So really, this is just the government getting lazy. They don't want the hastle of needing an actual reason to check your e-mail. Personally, anything regarding my privacy is one area where I want the government jumping through as many hoops as possible, thank you.
This wreaks of possible misuse. I have an image of a government employee, bored on his lunch break, casually reading over my latest discussion with a professor. That's the nice image, the nasty image stems from this: if we're making it easier for the government to read our e-mail, what's to stop it from being easier for anyone to read our e-mail.
I don't appreciate this government's attempts to undermine my privacy under the guise of protection. And it worries me that there are people, university students in particular, who think that allowing Washington to observe every word we write, say, or think is really doing anything to protect us. I mean, sure, the rat in his cage is safe from external harm, but he can't get away when the people who caged him electrify the floor.