Sunday, November 12, 2006

Canadian Libraries Hiding From U.S. Patriot Act

This is a follow-up to the November 5, 2006 Library Boy post entitled Canadian Libraries Abandoning U.S.-Based Servers Because of Patriot Act.

Many Canadian university libraries are worried that U.S. authorities will be able to snoop on the type of research Canadian professors and students conduct through Refworks. Refworks is an online research management tool that allows people with a password - students and researchers - to gather, manage, store and share information, as well as generate citations and bibliographies.

That information is normally kept on U.S. servers, which has led to fears that the Patriot Act could allow U.S. authorities to gain access to potentially sensitive information or even to benign information that could be misunterpreted by overzealous U.S. snoops.

Out of concern for privacy, many of the universities have been transferring to Canadian servers.

This Saturday's Globe and Mail had a follow-up to the story: Universities move to hide work from U.S. eyes:

"Amid heightened fears about terrorist activities, Canadian university officials worry that if the research is of a sensitive nature, it could be misunderstood. For example, an academic researching North Korea or nuclear weapons could find the work flagged by the Bush government, university librarians fear. As a result, Dalhousie, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Alberta are among the institutions that have switched to the Canadian server. The hope is that data on a Canadian server will be protected from the Patriot Act, which gives authorities virtually unlimited investigative powers. "

The institutions that have made the switch can still subscribe to Refworks, the only difference being that all personal information about the research patterns of their professors and students will now be stored on Canadian servers at the University of Toronto.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:59 pm


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