[DEBATE] : Fwd: Status: UKZN e-Communication policy
Pithouser at ukzn.ac.za
Fri Oct 6 11:46:52 BST 2006
>>> University Notice 10/03/06 9:25 AM >>>
The University Community
Dear Colleagues and Students
Concern has been expressed recently by members of staff about the fact
that the University executive and the staff of ICT have assumed the
power to search through the e-mails of staff and students and to place
these under surveillance.
The University is committed to upholding the principles of academic
freedom, freedom of speech and the tenets of our national Constitution.
These have important consequences for the way in which the University
manages its communications infrastructure and in particular the
electronic versions of this infrastructure.
Like so much in our society this freedom to privacy has to be balanced
against other societal and institutional demands. The University of
KwaZulu-Natal, like all other universities in the world, has to develop
an electronic communications policy. There are many reasons for this.
One is to ensure that the bandwidth the University purchases at very
high cost is optimally deployed for the research and teaching that lie
at the heart of the institution. Electronic communication uses up a
significant part of this bandwidth. Another reason is that the
University has to be in a position to act against staff and students who
use the University's facilities to engage in communications which might
be hurtful, offensive, racist, sexist, or criminal in one way or other.
There is currently a draft e-communications policy being discussed
within the university community. This policy has been to Senate where
there was some discussion. It was then sent to the faculties for further
interrogation and debate. Following this, a re-worked document will be
presented to the Senate and to Council.
The draft policy does not permit the kinds of casual, non-formal,
surreptitious surveillance that have been described in the Press by
members of staff. When surveillance is required this permission would be
sought from the Vice-Chancellor under very strict and clearly defined
Staff members who recently upgraded their e-mail software were required
to acknowledge the new policy before they were permitted to send
e-mails. This requirement slipped in as an error. It was premature as
the communications policy has yet to be approved. This requirement has
since been removed. The ICT Division apologises to the individuals who
were affected by this.
I trust that this helps. The University will align itself with
international best practice in this regard.
Ahmed C Bawa (Professor)
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Knowledge Production and
28 September 2006
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