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As much as I hate to admit it, recently I was briefly quarantined from Emmanuel’s WiFi and had to resort to a booth at Panera in order to get my morning’s work done. Apparently, the IT department frowns upon the download of Katy Perry’s album leak. I’m sure Katy wasn’t too happy about it, either.
I sat down with Carlos Varum, Director of IT, to discuss what kinds of things Emmanuel’s IT department is looking for in monitoring internet usage.
After the passing of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) in 2008, a committee was put together on campus to make necessary changes to the student handbook and make sure the college was compliant. The committee was responsible for notifying all students, putting the info in our student handbook, and preventing peer-to-peer sharing from happening. Prior to this, nothing was in place.
Varum explained that with peer-to-peer sharing (p2p) the issue has to do with the illegality of most downloads, as well as the risk of viruses. He went on to explain that the college has a shaper in place, which monitors traffic on the basis of whether it is academic or not.
The shaper also has the ability to prioritize the availability of certain websites. For example, Youtube is used during many lectures on campus, so the shaper is able to make it so that Youtube is more available than other pages. It can also limit traffic, like that involved with p2p sharing.
Varum admitted that that they have never reported anyone for a Code of Conduct violation, but that if anything serious were to occur, they’d take it to Student Life.
“If we’re not doing anything it could hurt the college,” Varum said.
Varum also mentioned the spam filtering put in place on the college’s email accounts. He explained that 100% of messages hit a device which filters the messages for anything that might be a threat. He said that none of the software is designed to look at the actual email account or the content of the emails.
“We don’t really care what sites students go to, we just want to protect the system,” Varum explained.
The HEOA requires all campuses to certify that they have plans to “effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including through the use of a variety of technology-based deterrents” and to “offer alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property.”
Chelsea McDonnell is a staff writer for the Hub. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @chelsea_lynn_.