Friday, September 18, 2009

oh privacy, what a silly idea!

york university, tentanda via: "the way must be tried"

since we started this blog we've talked a lot about yorku for a lot of different reasons.

there was the strike, for one. there was the conservative government interference in student elections.
there was a president who said one thing in the media and did the complete opposite.
there was the blatant attack on free speech and the destruction of a student newspaper.
there were the fraud accusations(well, not accusations anymore because they were true).

then there was the time the university tried to get an emergency court order to force google to release identities associated with a certain gmail account.

the last one should probably throw you off a little, if you're an email user or internet subscriber and you have a notion that what you do from your gmail account is somewhat private.

according to the national post last week, and about a million other sources since then,york has won court orders which require google, bell, and rogers to " to reveal the identities of the anonymous authors of contentious emails that accused the school's president of academic fraud."

there it is. it's proof we're not just paranoid about these kinds of things!! this is a fact--york went to the court to FORCE your internet service provider to give them this information. the email address is anonymous so what that looks like is IP addresses and names/addresses of people whose IP addresses/internet were used to access the gmail account.

this motion went unopposed by bell and rogers. translation: they don't give a shit about protecting your anonymity or privacy. they also got payments for this service, how convenient.

the media contact for the anonymous group who utilizes the gmail account has stated on many occasions that the group(faculty at york university) don't want to be public because they're afraid of reprisal--a totally legal stance to take.

and also, how can the courts grant this order when the fraud accusations made by the group turned out to be true?

will mcdowell, who is one of the lawyers for york(and also one of the lawyers defending york in a human rights tribunal hearing), thinks this kind of action is completely necessary:

"academics enjoy quite extensive latitude in what they say and what they write and what they research at canadian universities but i would say this about any of us: the right of free speech is not unlimited ...what was said is quite damaging to the institution."

actually, i think what was said was appropriate and reflected the political climate at yorku right now. maybe it damaged the president, but he lied, he committed fraud, and he put york's academic integrity on the line to save his own ass.

i'm sorry, mr. mcdowell, but if you think academics have "extensive latitude" to say, research, and write whatever they want in canada right now, you've been living in some kind of hole in the ground.

currently at the ontario human rights tribunal a complaint is being heard against york university.

for... REPRISAL. this shit isn't just being made up. professors and students in every institution can attest to the fact that they have been punished for researching, writing, and saying what they think. professor denis rancourt lost his job at the university of ottawa(you can read his statement HERE).

at the human rights tribunal hearing this week(which continues at 655 bay street, 14th floor, room 12, 10am the 22-24th next week), pat bradshaw-former senate chair at yorku- said that the boundaries of institutions are so fluid that sometimes its hard to see where a university begins or ends.

as students, professors, educators, activists, or whatever we have to say that this is unacceptable. york university's reputation is being sold up the river, its adminstrators and henchpeople are moving unilaterally to make boundaries between the university and outside organizations/lobbies/"stakeholders"/corporations more and more "fluid" until they're completely non existent(along with our academic freedom and freedom of speech).

a few months ago the yu free press released an issue entitled alia tentanda via est, another way must be tried.

another way must be tried, and as students and profs at yorku we shouldn't let one office decide what way that will be.

so i guess this is it then, the battle for york. time to choose sides.

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