Geert Lovink on Wed, 28 Aug 2013 14:00:57 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> let's rethink our relation to Google (and other large email providers in the cloud)

(posted first on the unlike us mailinglist on alternatives in social =
media /geert)

From: Ulises Mejias <>

Petition to Faculty Assembly to Form a Special Ad-hoc Committee to =
Review our Relationship to Google Inc.=20


In 2010, the school decided to switch to "free" email, scheduling and =
cloud storage solutions provided by Google. While I wasn't part of any =
of those discussions and decisions, I believe they made sense from an =
economic and technological standpoint. But even at that time, I remarked =
in The Oswegonian that there were problematic issues concerning privacy, =
academic freedom, and the corporatization of public education that were =
worth considering.=20

I probably don't need to tell you that since then, information has come =
to light about the way Google (and other companies) have collaborated =
with the government in what amounts to massive and illegal violations of =
citizens' privacy. Perhaps to salvage some of its image, the Do No Evil =
company is filing a First Amendment case against the NSA (1). At the =
same time, however, it has come to light that Google accepted money from =
the government to spy on us (2), money that helped Google help the NSA =
to break the law (3), even as the NSA denied it (4).

Google has become an integral part of our operations at Oswego. =
Personally, I am using it not only to write this, but to email students =
and colleagues, collaborate with peers all around the world, deliver =
classes, share documents, schedule meetings, conduct research, and so =
on. Our reliance on services provided by any company, however, should =
not prevent us from reexamining our relationship to that company when it =
is discovered that it is in violation of basic codes of law, decency and =


Consequently, I am calling on SUNY Oswego's Faculty Assembly to =
immediately form an ad-hoc committee to review the college's =
relationship to Google.

The committee could consider a number of possible actions, including but =
not limited to:

	=95 Requesting information from Google about the specifics of =
how they report information generated through Laker Apps to the =
government, and which accounts have been monitored.
	=95 Exploring alternatives and putting forward a recommendation =
regarding whether the school should a) continue to use Laker Apps, b) =
should use another 3rd party service, or c) should go back to hosting =
its own services.
	=95 If it is deemed that the school should follow b) or c), but =
cannot afford to do so, putting together an opt-out plan to allow =
faculty or students not wishing to use Laker Apps to do so, and sending =
a letter to all incoming students and staff informing them that the =
school cannot guarantee the security of their data.

I realize many of these demands are in the nature of symbolic gestures =
(it is unlikely Google or the NSA will respond to any requests to =
release information about their operations). Nonetheless, in times of =
encroaching violations on our rights, silence and complacency are the =
foremost danger to a democracy.

Respectfully submitted,=20

Dr. Ulises A. Mejias
Assistant Professor, Communication Studies Department
10 Lanigan Hall, SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126-3599
(315) 312-3525


(1) =
(2) =
(3) =
(4) =

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