Friday, April 30, 2004

Big brother may be reading 

The saga of the University of Southern Mississippi is drawing to a close, according to Robert Campbell at Liberty and Power. No details have come out yet, but a settlement has been reached between two fired tenured professors and the university. The odd thing about the hearing before the trustees yesterday is that the university's president brought in three boxes of intercepted email that had then been reviewed by an attorney. Campbell points out that most universities have this kind of access to email, including SCSU.
Although the University does not routinely monitor all messages, it does have the authority, at any time, to inspect the contents of any University equipment, files, or mail on it's [sic] system for any legitimate business, legal or disciplinary purpose. Reasons for review include, but are not limited to: reasonable suspicion of a violation of a rule or law or University policy; investigation of system problems; litigation or anticipated litigation; or a need to perform work when an employee is not available.

Employee users of the University's e-mail system must understand that most communications created, received or backed-up on the system are considered to be public documents and thus, may be subject to requests for public disclosure. Employees should bear in mind that this construction may apply even to e-mails that contain, for example, personal remarks.