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By Lennie Omalza, staff writer

The government says that the purpose of this is to help catch terrorists and other criminals. Disregarding freedom of speech and issues of academic freedom, universities argue that it will cost at least $7 billion to do this, and would raise tuition at most universities by about $450 per student, at the very least.

One HPU student, Nicole Guselli, said “Personally, I only use my University account for school-related e-mails and to submit assignments, as I’m sure most students do. Many of us have alternate accounts for personal use. I just think it’s an unnecessary upgrade that will cost universities and the government a lot of time and money for nothing, and it will cause an interruption in our education and a further invasion of the little privacy we have left.”

If this law is passed, universities will have to reconfigure their networks so that every Internet access point would send communications to a network operations center before it actually gets onto the Internet. This way, the data would be packaged for delivery to law enforcement.

This order was issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in August under the authority of the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA); it applies to universities, libraries, airports with wireless service, and commercial Internet access providers. The order demands that universities, libraries, etc. comply with the law by spring of 2007.

The CALEA defines the “obligation of telecommunications carriers to assist law enforcement in executing electronic surveillance pursuant to court order or other lawful authorization.” Though the FCC is considering exempting educational institutions from this order, it has yet to grant an extension for university compliance.

Another HPU student, Lynn Ammerman, said: “Students pay the schools to receive an education and how we choose to study should be at our own discretion. If this law passes, what’s next? Monitoring private individual’s e-mails?”

HPU freshman Alan Nakamura, from Mililani, is of two minds about the requirement. He said, “I feel that it is OK for the federal government to be able to monitor online communications because it can reduce the terrorism risk by catching the terrorists before harm is done. However, a part of me is against it because it may open up more opportunities for identity theft, stealing of credit card accounts, and [introduce] viruses. This law might do more harm than good.”

Lawyers for the American Council on Education are preparing to appeal the order before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

 

 

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