Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, September 10, 2007

Keeping data away from US spy agencies

Dan Carnevale, Fearing Prying U.S. Eyes, Canada's Colleges Crack Down on Computing, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 14, 2007 (accessible only to subscribers) .  Excerpt:

The USA Patriot Act is having far-reaching effects on the kinds of data that wind up on some academics' computers in Canada. Canadian colleges, responding to provincial laws passed in reaction to the Patriot Act, are preventing professors from entering the United States with students' private data on their laptops and limiting the locations of servers where academic data are stored.

The provincial privacy laws call on government institutions, including public colleges, to keep data in Canada and away from the potential prying eyes of U.S. agencies given investigative powers under the Patriot Act....

Attempts to play it safe are proving to be expensive for some colleges, possibly tripling the cost of data storage. Not playing it safe could also be expensive: In one province violators face a $500,000 fine....

American companies, meanwhile, are discovering that, to keep doing business with Canadian colleges, they have to relocate some of their computer equipment into Canada....

PS:  I haven't heard of anyone taking these precautions for research data.  But research data are so various that I'd be surprised if the Canadian laws didn't apply to at least some datasets for research projects e.g. on university students or medical patients.