BCNM faculty, including director Greg Niemeyer, were featured in a recent New York Times piece highlighting the ongoing discussion about monitoring and data security in the UC system. After last summer’s breach of the UCLA medical center, UC president Janet Napolitano has taken measures to increase monitoring of UC data and web-trafficking. BCNM faculty were among those who voiced concerns over the lack of transparency and public consultation in this move and the need to protect UC faculty and students doing politically or socially sensitive research.
From the article:
The standard practice at Berkeley, the professors said, had been to immediately delete the so-called log files that show the websites a person had visited or the origin and destination of email traffic. The exception, they said, was if a pattern of network use signaled the suspicion of data theft or a hacker attack. So in the past, they said, the monitoring in Berkeley data centers was light-touch, and targeted.
The worry, Mr. Niemeyer said, is that if network traffic logs are stored, they could be subject to subpoena. An example, he said, might be if a foreign student from China or some other autocratic nation is visiting the websites of dissidents or emailing them.
“Before, we could just say that we just don’t have the records,” Mr. Niemeyer said. “Now, it’s not clear we wouldn’t or the third-party company wouldn’t. That is the kind of scenario that is not unlikely.”