A huge stink is wafting over Cambridge due to the fact that Harvard administrators have reportedly searched through the email archives of 16 resident deans without permission. The administration was looking to discover which faculty member recently revealed details of an extensive student cheating affair to the media.
Reports say about 70 students recently were sent home because they collaborated on or outright plagiarized their answers to a take-home final exam. Evidently the administration is embarrassed by the affair. Harvard Faculty members have more protection from this sort of privacy invasion, but Harvard policy allows such hunts for internal investigations, and resident deans’ employment status may make them more staff than faculty.
Currently a new bill protecting email privacy has been introduced before Congress. Called the Online Communications and Geolocation Privacy Act, it’s an attempt to fix what its sponsors think are gaping holes in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Essentially the bill would require a warrant for government searches of the type that Harvard just carried out.